Taking Care of Me Helps Me Find My Best “Me”

Image result for find your best you and do that

Sometimes I feel like I am a child, stumbling along in the dark, and often directly into the path of a bright window, where love radiates and I learn a lesson.  I feel as if I have learned many lessons lately, and the most important one I have learned is this:

I need to figure out what it takes to be the best “me,” and then do THAT.

Throw myself into whatever it is that takes me furthest, whatever makes me happiest, whatever helps those I love the most, whatever serves the greater good but also grows me.

I am a seedling, growing under the care of love and the sun and I am constantly changing and growing and breaking through barriers, yet moving slowly and purposefully as so not to bruise my tender leaves.  I have to be patient with myself and I have to ask others to be patient with me, in turn.

At 35, one might think I should be all grown up and have it figured out.  Let me tell you something:

Anyone that tells you they have it all figured out at 35, they are lying to you with fingers crossed behind their back.

We ALL want to give off the impression that we have it together.  We don’t.  I don’t, you don’t, not completely.  Some parts of our lives are stronger and more figured out than others, but life is a lesson that you keep learning new things about until you are dead.  And if you stop learning, stop growing, become stagnant, your leaves fall off and you die.  You die and you walk around as a husk of a person because you had it in your head that you had to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW.

My goal this week is to be kinder and gentler with myself.  I have been criticizing myself harshly because, as of the last few weeks, I haven’t been as productive (at least traditionally so), as I may have hoped.  I’m going to cut myself some slack though, because I am needing time to heal.

I have been physically under the weather for almost three weeks now, and the mystery illness isn’t letting up.  I have a feeling that stress and strong self-criticism and not allowing myself to just rest and to just be, is what is continuing the sickness.  Not that the illness is in my head, because I think it is very real, just that I am exacerbating it by continuing to expect myself to be Wonder Woman and all things to all people and to check all sorts of things off my “to do” list every day.

So I am taking a break from the harshness of my own voice reprimanding myself.  I am going to try and take it easy.  I am going to try and figure out what makes me the best “me” that I can be, and I’m going to run with it.  Some of my very favorite people in the world are going through rough times right now, too, and I want to urge them, to urge you, to be kind to yourself this week.  To take it a little easier than normal on yourself.

It is positive to motivate yourself to do things, but when your voice turns cruel and you stop giving yourself credit and you decide you are a bad person, just stop.  It really is that simple — stop being so mean to yourself, and give yourself a break.  You will come out ahead, in the end.

 

Image result for be kind to yourself

 

Favorite Version (Good Intentions)

good intentions

 

You know what they say about good intentions, right, friend?  How they done paved dat dere road to Hell.  Well, you know, I think sometimes maybe that fits and works, but sometimes it is our good intentions that hold us together like a favorite, old, comfortable, unraveling sweater.

It is only through good intentions that the Rosa I love best is here, today.  The Rosa that I enjoy the most, who laughs and makes jokes and tries to comfort those around her holds hands and has a kind word.  The Rosa that is there for people, struggling to get out of herself.

The Rosa that decides to try a brand-new recipe on a whim with no fear, the Rosa that hobbles to the damn pool and practices weightless exercises until time stands still and the chlorine lingers in the nostrils for hours.  Who talks to strangers, smiles at small children, hugs fiercely.  Who cries herself awake and then turns to precious LarBear for comfort, knowing it will always be given.

Is passionate about more than how long it is possible to stay in bed, completely immobile.  That girl that does things and has a good time doing them and fights back when the darkness starts circling come around nightfall every evening.

She is my favorite, and she might be your favorite, too — its easy to love the one who battles and battles and fights back some more, even when it seems like all those neurochemicals zipping around upstairs are dead-set against any happiness today.  Its worth acknowledging that it isn’t easy being this version, no matter how lovable.  Because it’s a constant up-and-down, and while there is more “up” than “down,” the downs are quite low.

So there are a lot of tears and a lot of gasping sobs and big empty and vast fields of grey fog, covering the blackness of night.  But instead of giving in, which, really, is what the urge is every day — there is always, always forward movement.

More activities, more people, more places to go and see and things to do.  Build structure, build mastery, practice living in the moment.  This moment won’t come again, precious steps must be taken to pay attention, to not avoid or ignore it into oblivion.

My Current, Personal Pep-Talk

The song below was brought to my brain, courtesy of my dear friend, Mental Mama.  She shared it as a song that reminds her of her significant other, and, as she says,

And it actually depends on the day which of us is “singing” this to the other. 

I have literally played this song over 50 times in the past two days, usually on a continuous loop.  I’ve emailed it to my mom, I’ve told my dad about it, I’m humming it under my breath.  It’s there, it’s stuck.

MM and her significant other may “sing” this to each other, but I think it works for me to sing it to MYSELF.  Read the lyrics, listen to the song.  I am singing JUST THAT to myself.  I’m giving myself a constant pep talk.  I’m not giving up on me or who I am.

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?Well, I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up, still looking up.

Well, I won’t give up on us (no I’m not giving up)
God knows I’m tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We’ve got a lot to learn (we’re alive, we are loved)
God knows we’re worth it (and we’re worth it)

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

 

Self-Compassion, Another Sticking Point

I sure was in a bad place, or maybe just a strange place when I wrote last night’s post.  I was trying to explain to DSB why I felt like hell about not getting anything accomplished.  He didn’t try and say that I actually did get some things accomplished (which I did), he just gave it the same ultra-rational take as he does on everything: “Stop thinking about it and do it.  Just do it.”

Sometimes I feel like my life is a Nike commercial.  Being urged to “just do it” constantly.  It just isn’t that easy and I do wish it was.  After blogging, I would like to add that I gave myself a facial and took a shower.  It felt very nice, almost like I was rewarding myself for my breakthrough.  I am hoping I can do something similar tonight, if not tomorrow.

Part of DBT is that you are supposed to be kind to yourself.  I, and most people with a mood disorder, am not very good about it.  Because really, seriously, let’s just admit it, deep down (or maybe right at the surface), there is a good bit of self-loathing going on, at least some of the time.  At least that’s how it is for me.

I have taken a well-known self-compassion scale in DBT many times and found the same one here, that you can take yourself, if interested, as well.  My scores are miserable.  I am not kind to myself, am full of self-judgement, don’t feel part of humanity, feel isolated, am not mindful, and am over-identified.  I have taken the same scale many times throughout my “recovery process” and have always turned up the same.

How many people do you know that are self-compassionate?  I can’t think of many, but I don’t have a very big circle.  Maybe you know people who love themselves and care for themselves and are easy with themselves when their flaws are revealed.  That, according to the only two therapists I have had in my 17 year stint in DBT-based therapy, is what it’s all about.

To heal, you must be kind to yourself.  You must practice self-compassion.  Be easy on yourself, and give credit where credit is due.  It’s been 17 years and you think I would have “bought in” by now, right?  Why haven’t I?  Is it willfulness, rearing it’s ugly head?  Perhaps.  Is the lack of self-compassion learned behavior?  Certainly could be.  I can point to the major players in my life and look at how hard they are on themselves and think, “hmmmm, I wonder…”

It doesn’t really matter where it came from, just that it’s hear.  I do believe you, oh you two therapists out there, when you say that I need to be kinder and gentler with myself, do nice things for myself, treat myself well, cut myself some slack.  It is just so damn hard to do.

After my self-administered facial and long shower last night, I felt amazing.  If that is just one small step towards giving myself some kindness, I might even try it again.  There’s a little voice telling me I don’t deserve it, but the long term goal is to  quash that voice and start thinking about what the next kind thing is I can do for myself.

Thought Smorgasbord

I think I have been avoiding the blogosphere lately because, well…sometimes it’s hard to examine oneself, especially when one is not being very kind to one’s own self and does not really want to examine such.

My eating and lack of any type of exercise whatsoever have been beyond ridiculous over the past several months.  And I wonder why I just keep gaining weight.  I think I have given up on losing weight and I think that all occurred not that long ago.  I am not sure how to make that change or become motivated.  There is a part of me that even thinks, “Oh, you don’t look that bad!”  Getting new clothes has helped with that, and, no, I don’t think buying new clothes when one has nothing that fits to wear is enabling a person to be heavy and not change.  It has really been necessary…can’t/shouldn’t really go to work with belly hanging out and pants cutting off circulation.

Had a very interesting discussion with QoB last night regarding laziness, weight gain/loss, exercise, motivation.  It wasn’t exactly a discussion, it was more QoB telling it to me like it is and me listening.  It can be so painful to examine oneself sometimes…seriously!

This “discussion” last night left me thinking about a lot of things today.  One of the more important ones was “I think you can love yourself more than you do.”  At the time it was said, I believe my reply was that I didn’t think I would ever be able to do.  And then there was talk about “feelings” vs. “choices” and I didn’t have much to say after that, just listened.  Sometimes I need to just listen.

I am not very nice to myself.  I am all the time telling myself how dumb/stupid/ugly/fat/worthless I am, even if that is not the image that I project, especially at work.  Those are thoughts that run through my head all of the time, however.  Those thoughts and thoughts about things that I could and should be doing.  The neverending “my house isn’t clean enough” gets really old, for others to hear, too, I would think.  It gets old for me to think about.

Change is unlikely unless one becomes uncomfortable enough with the status quo to do the things, complete the tasks, work on the things necessary for that change to happen.  I have become comfortable with being extremely overweight, with high levels of anxiety, with ignoring and neglecting my body and spirit.

I was sitting around this morning, thinking that I couldn’t remember the last time I had been truly nice to myself, nourished my very being with something positive.  It made me feel sad and confused, like you do when you realize there has been something painful going on and you suddenly realize there is something you can do about it.

I decided then and there that I needed to put more of an effort into sacred self.  I decided I need to practice loving myself so I can be a more effective and centered person.  And, yes, so I can love myself more…and start caring about things like my health, my body, my emotions, my stress level.  Instead of just plodding through.  Because, that is what I do…just plod on through and ignore and numb, ignore and numb.

QoB made an interesting point.  She said that, at some point in time, I have decided that I am going to be the best discharge planner it is possible to be.  I agree with that.  What was also said is that I have done that, accomplished that, have been working 40 hours a week, actually working, something I have never even before contemplated being able to do, and I am doing a good job.  It has become my focus, what I am striving for.  I have done this thing and ignored everything else.  Everything.

I would like to say that I am going to start exercising, eating healthy all the time (instead of usually healthy, but with regular injections of junk), quit smoking, blah blah blah.  I’m not going to say that.

What I am going to say is that I am going to work toward being mindful of how I am feeling, where I am, what I am doing.  I am going to try and pay attention to my body and what it is saying.  I am going to start doing nice things for myself and not worry so much about work and whether or not my kitchen is clean, beating myself up all the time.

I started today by giving Kizzie a bath.  It is something I keep thinking about and something that has been bothering me.  I keep putting it off because it is hard for me to kneel in front of the bathtub because I am so heavy.  This morning I practiced opposite to emotion, said, “Yes, I CAN!” and threw that dog in the tub.

It was freeing to do something I didn’t think I was physically capable of doing.  I almost felt as if a little weight was lifted off of my chest, that it’s a little easier to breathe, that possibly, just maybe, all hope is not lost and maybe I can do a few more things that I have listed in my head as physically impossible.

Sometimes, I know, I can surprise myself.

I mentioned before about getting new clothes, trying to feel better about myself and be “work appropriate.”  I also managed to find a couple of pairs of really nice winter shoes yesterday.

My hair has been really bugging me, I am really hating it, and I just had a haircut.  It wasn’t a very good haircut and I have been wearing it pulled back almost since the day I got it cut.  I firmly believe that having a good haircut is essential to feeling good, looking your best.  The haircut I had wasn’t cutting it.  Even though I know that I didn’t absolutely “need” a haircut, that I had just had one, I knew I was unhappy.

So, using my discretionary weekly money, I went and got my hair cut.  It looks amazing and I already feel better about myself.  Just doing those nice things for myself.  It’s important, and deep down I know that, I just have a hard time doing the littlest nice things, acting instead on autopilot that I am going to treat myself like I have always treated myself, and beat myself up some more.  I would like to decrease, eventually cease doing that.  So, that is what I am working on.

Rather than looking at all those little trees (losing weight, smoking, eating too much junk, beating myself up, obsessing about a clean house, drowning myself in stress), I choose today to look at the big picture, that forest, if you will.  The key in this is to start loving myself, so I can care about all of those little trees and do something about it, instead of just beating myself up.

I could use a little “feel good” music.  Have some Barry.

Barry White, “The First, The Last, My Everything”