One of the things I'm going to start doing is running. I've signed up for a 5k in April here in SLC and I'm signing up for a 1/2 Marathon in the Hamptons during September--my birthday month. I can't think of a better way to celebrate turning 34.
We all have triggers. Mine, I think, is loneliness. It's also stress and perfection. I think, as women, we feel a lot of this on our shoulders. I've realized one of the best things I can do to heal myself is to realize when I'm wounded and how to dress the wound.
It seems my way of coping is to ignore the wound and stuff the stomach. Or create new wounds that take focus off old wounds. Or not understand myself enough to see what wounds me. Or not feel worthy or deserving of asking for help from others.
Lately, when I get triggered, I've been trying to call people. The problem is, I only have about three friends that I call. And if they don't answer--which 99% of the time they don't because they are busy--then I go on and comfort or treat my trigger via old methods that I like. Usually a binge and a purge. Or just a binge.
So, since this is a the year of health, I have to be aware enough to see the triggers for what they are, not ignore them, and come up with solid plans that will work to help me avoid the coping mechanisms I currently employ. This could be a slow process. But such a worthy one. The path to healing begins when you take the brain that you've created and you change it's habits to better ones. We can all do it. Repetition is key. Support is key. And not giving up is key.
So, the next time I have a trigger. I've decided that I need to react differently. I'd love some ideas of WHAT you do when you feel triggered?
Monday night I took a hot bath. Really hot. My legs got very, very red. When I lifted them out of the bath and put my legs up on the tub, I saw an upside down heart. My hips and thighs all rosy and red shaping a heart into the lengthy tips of my toes. I liked it. I liked thinking of myself as love. I like the idea of loving those hips and thighs.
And then I cried. A lot. It wasn't a sad cry or a cry for help, it was a release. I don't release a lot, but I realize, that sometimes cries are good. And they help me feel good. And sure, I indulge in tiny slivers of self pity, but then my mind becomes clear and I become more focused and I keep on.
I cried at how fragile life is. I cried because my sweet friend has cancer and chemo is kicking her ass. I cried because my other friend is suffering from anorexia so badly that she just isn't eating anymore and I don't know how to get her to eat. I cried because I am softening up and preparing to get vulnerable with the love of my life. I cried because sometimes I feel misunderstood. I cried because I miss my brother. I cried because most of my friends are married and busy and I have a lot of alone time and it sucks. I cried because I am so happy for all the blessings I have.
Then I stopped. Got out. Dried off. And went to bed.
Valentine's was interesting. I teach at a high school. So, at 33, to sit and watch these young, fresh, vibrant, perfect girls get candy and chocolate and balloons and stuffed animals was a bit hard for my spinster self. But I didn't let it get me down. I don't know what the hell I would do with a stuffed animal if I got it anyway. Goodness, I dislike all the typical "hallmark" gifts (besides chocolate). For me, a romantic day would be about gentle touches, shared laughter, a shared bathtub, shared bodies, and maybe a thoughtful gift.
I don't have anyone to share this 14th with, but I will next year, so it's all ok. I had myself. I went grocery shopping on Valentine's Day. It was the best way to love myself. I hate grocery shopping. I feel overwhelmed by what I SHOULD buy, I worry about buying too much and not making the right choices, I try to avoid aisles with my trigger foods in them. I try to not go hungry. I have a bad habit of not having food in my house. I don't know what this is all about, but I'm sure it has to do with the fact that food and I have a tough relationship and with all things hard, we try to avoid conflict. So, when I don't have food in the house, I don't have to hate the food. It's weird. I know.
One of my main goals this year is to actually PLAN and SHOP and FEED myself like normal people do. Screw perfection, I just want to feel normal. So, I did that on Valentine's Day. As I walked up and down the aisles, there were a lot of older single ladies there. Lots of OLD ones. Like 80. I helped a sweet one reach for her wheat thins on a shelf she couldn't reach. It didn't depress me. It just made me feel like part of the human race. And part of that race is slowing down and feeding yourself. I think, too often, we go on autopilot with our individual nourishment.
After shopping, I came home and prepared my breakfast and lunch for the next three days.
I've been living alone for two months now. Before this, I was living with family or roommates, and at one point in Europe--my boss. Sounds weird, but we were like a big "family". When you live with people, you uphold to certain rules. You try not to walk around naked, you shut the door to the bathroom, you don't eat your dinner right out of the pan because you don't want to dirty a dish, you try and pick up your shoes from cluttering the front room.
When you live alone, it's a quiet introspection to the things you tend to do and what it means. I tend to walk around naked a bit more, if even just dashing to one room to the other to get clean clothes. I don't do the naked thing often, because I'm not really happy being naked. I start criticizing. I think we all do that.
Funny thing is that I am friends with A LOT of hippies. And they like to hang out naked. When they go camping, they find a secluded spot and get naked. When we go hiking to a lake, they all take their clothes off and hop in the lake to go swimming. I NEVER do this. I don't get naked around others. I think I want to. Just to see what it feels like. Other cultures grow up in such close quarters that families are very used to seeing each other naked. My friends from Finland--because it's so cold there--say that they grow up seeing their friends (male and female) naked all the time in the daily trips to the saunas. When I saw people naked and topless on the beaches of Europe, I would say that 3% of them ACTUALLY had what we might call "perfect" bodies. Many of them had tummys and thighs and saggy breasts and they didn't care. Heck, I don't really care when I see it either. It's the body. Why be so programed for perfection.
So, I have a goal this year. Somehow. I want to go skinny dipping somewhere and with someone. It might have to be in the dark this year, but I want to do it.
Have you had experiences being naked in a group setting?
I've not looked at this blog all week. I've thought of taking down the past posts. I think I say "voices" because somehow and somewhere I'd like to try and label my thoughts into categories of healthy and unhealthy. So, I give thoughts that are sad and self-deprecating a name--like "Chloe". It's not that I actually "HEAR" anything other than my own head. Does that make sense? When I start worrying if the white towels are white and straight enough on the bathroom rack, then I dub those thoughts "Penelope" and try to let those go too. Hopefully I am not on a fast track to developing multiple personality disorder. That was a joke people.
One of the most common refrains in my head is, "I'll start tomorrow." I don't know why this is the easiest lie to tell ourselves. Do you do it? We all do, don't we. I'll start tomorrow, I'll be better tomorrow, I'll do more tomorrow, I'll feel better tomorrow, I'll make it happen tomorrow.
Tomorrow has become some far off life that I want to have, but I never do, because I'm always living today. That's a cliche thought, I'm sure, but it's also a coping mechanism that I must have learned from Scarlet O'Hara.
The real threat, of course, is that if you actually DO start today--then you have to deal with the feelings of not having what you want, or feel like you need, or dealing with the anxiety of the withdrawls.
There is something spiritual to a binge and purge that I guess, for me, I act out in a physical way. I know it would be healthier to emotional purge myself of so many things, but I can't or don't or am not sure how, so maybe I punish myself by doing it on a more physical level.
And thanks for your support. I have formed a strong support system around me. I am putting it out of the dark and just writing here in this white space is going to be enough for me for now.
She doesn't want to do anything. She hates being around people because they are always wanting things from her, or judging her. She doesn't want to talk on the phone. Too many email messages or text messages from people annoy her. Why won't they just leave her alone? She doesn't need them. She doesn't want them. She knows what works and they are not part of her day to day plan. She hates going out and eating in front of people. People at restaurants judge her. They wonder why she's even eating at all. She doesn't deserve to eat. Look at her. Fat, ugly, never good enough. Can't she see what she looks like? Why doesn't her lazy ass do something about all that. She's just so damn useless. No one will ever truly want to want to marry her or have lots of sex with her or raise a baby with her or be with her forever.
Her one constant and joy is food. It's all she feels she has. She likes it. She loves eating. She loves it so much she just shoves things in her mouth faster than she can chew. She looks forward to eating every day. She hates when Penelope tries to starve her. What a bitch. She always makes these plans, but I am stronger than Penelope. I have more addictions. I have less worry. I don't really care if Penelope ever gets thin like she wants. She's so whiny. She's such a pleaser. She does everything for everyone else. Not me. I do it just for me. I just want me and food. Sounds lonely, and it is, but when you eat that much, you don't think of anything else but your full stomach, because it hurts, it's uncomfortable , it's more painful and uncomfortable than all the loneliness. I shove so much in. And then I don't move. I just sit. I sit and feel my muscles cry out for movement, and I don't fucking care. I don't want to move. I don't want to participate. Sometimes I get so nagged by Penelope's whiny, falsetto voice that I give in and let Penelope puke it all out. Then she gets so worried about the mess she's made and has so much shame and embarrassment about it. Whatever. As soon as Penelope has emptied her stomach, I'm immediately on the hunt to fill it again. Chloe doesn't like her stomach empty. She fights Penelope on this a lot. Penelope congratulates herself on feelings of emptiness and a body that feels ready to exercise. Chloe wants a full, lazy body because then she doesn't have to do the millions of things that Penelope has scheduled for them. Chloe is lazy, let's face it. She sits around and watches movies even though Penelope yells at her to at least read a book or something useful.
Chloe is a hunter for food. Like an ancient cave man...that's how intense it feels. She plots and plans. She gets bitchy to anyone who tries to stop her, who interrupts her, or who tells her to change by doing things that seem so simple. Like don't eat. Just don't eat. That's like telling Chloe not to breathe. She's terribly agoraphobic and a loner. Don't bother her. Leave her the fuck alone. She can't do it all and doesn't want to. She wants to sit around and eat ice cream, chocolate, and Mexican food. She wants to escape from everything. Stella usually tries to appease both of us, Chloe and Penelope. She tells us that we will all three do better tomorrow. But we won't. I know it and deep down Stella knows it too. I'm certainly not going to change. I like being fat, lazy, and tuned out. Poor Stella is so tired of me, but she has no fucking idea how to get rid of me, and god, has she tried.
She really likes things clean. She finds joy in having everything in its place. Her hair is perfect, she looks like she stepped out of Vogue. Her fashion and sense of style are flawless. People "ooh" and "aw" over outfit choices, decorations, parties, and her many accomplishments. Her beauty appears effortless, even though she has worked longer and harder on it than most. But that has to be kept secret. Any work she does should be cast off, shrugged off, ignored or rejected by herself--though she feels horrible inside if no one acknowledges all the work she has actually done. When the praise does come, she handles it demurely, making light of herself as if she accomplished it all, and it was nothing. Just a wave of the hand. Simple. But. Perfect. In fact, that's the world she likes to create. Things should just magically appear. Laundry should come out folded in neat piles, pillowcases perfectly pressed, dishes always washed and stacked in neat lines, jokes told in perfect timing, everyone's comfort in front of her own. When all these things are done each and every day--well, then, people LOVE Penelope. They depend on her. They give her more and more to do because she always does it without complaint and she's always successful at all she does. Failure is not in her vocabulary. People depend on her consistency, her cookies are always moist, her house is always like out of a magazine, her manners are always impeccable (so is her spelling). People hold Penelope on a pedestal of perfection and grace. Perhaps Penelope believes she won't be loved and accepted by all these people if she doesn't meet their expectations. Where did she ever get such a silly idea from? And yet, why does this silly idea tend to gain such validation at work and in school where her accomplishments DID merit love and notice from those around her? If not love, at least admiration.
Penelope wants to eat two perfectly small means a day. She wants to weigh 130 pounds at 6 foot. She never wants to crave sweets, carbs, meat, or eat ANYTHING that would cause her ill health, fatigue, addictions, or pleasure. She has a lot of guilt about not doing these things perfectly. She has so much guilt around food, it's her main problem she can't control. Somehow she's gained a level of control in all other aspects of her life except for her body and her food. This, eternally, baffles Penelope. She blames Chloe. Chloe is fat, ugly, and she is keeping all three of us from reaching any level of potential success.
Can there really be three voices in my head instead of two? When did that ONE get all this competition? Would naming them even help? Perfect Penelope, Out of Control Chloe, and then, Simply Me? Does the simply me even want to be called "Stella" Was it the imperfect situations of my life, coupled with my voyeristic nature of watching other seemingly perfect families around me give me a sense of lack in my own self?
Who knows. I wish I didn't have to care. I wish these ideas of psychology didn't exist. I wish that inner reflection wasn't always weighing upon my mind--in conflict with the things I'm doing every day. Where does the balance of trying to become your best self and taking it to that extreme of demanding that you be good all of the time come from? Honestly, I though a lot of people were like me. I thought that what was going on in my head was just what went on in all heads. But seeing the laxidasical nature of many made me realize this wasn't so. I'm different. But I'm still like all those other people who are different like me. Many were geniuses, but many ended up in suicide or never reaching a state of peace. And while I don't have any suicidal tendencies, I have noticed that throughout my life the existential darkness has been developing and growing over the years. So, this is an honest exploration of self to temper Penelope and Chloe into a happy place of agreement with Simply Me.
Do you have it too? Those other voices in your head that sound like you, but they really aren't? I mean, they aren't your higher self? They are something loud, obnoxious and you might have gotten so used to what they are saying to you that you don't even know that they ARE NOT part of you?
It's been a hard few months. Emotional, I suppose. I've been alone in my new house and with the return of my sweet and sacred alone time--something I was not expecting happened.
I've returned to my bulimia full force. Alone. In my house. I don't allow myself to keep any food down. I can't figure this out. I'm trying. I've decided that this secrecy I've held in my heart for so many years needs to be brought to the surface. I might reinvent this blog as a place to journal, think, fear, see, realize, awake, and hopefully gain some semblance of peace. So, thank you in advance for your kindness, your gentleness with me, your patience, and even if you do not understand what I'm saying--thank you for at least WANTING to understand.
I'm a traveling super nova...living, working, loving, and breathing. I love the way a good Scottish accent sounds, I love singing in the kitchen while I cook, I dream in iambic pentameter (a side effect of all the Shakespeare plays I have directed), my favorite book shops are in Paris and Boston. I am trying to learn the art of feng shui. I like gratitude.