On the right track?

I’ve been M.I.A. for a bit, but I wanted to share a quote my mother sent me recently. I tried to Google search its origin, but haven’t found it. She shared it in Dutch, so I will take the liberty to translate it to English:

 You can say you’re on the right track, but that won’t get you anywhere if your train isn’t moving

Penny for your thoughts? 
xSooz

Sharing is healing

Last time, I blogged about not letting insecurities paralyze me into closing off to real life. It’s still hard, and I’ll be the first to admit I do not say ‘yes!’ to everything, immediately, always. But the realization that I can decide against my initial response is incredible; it creates so many possibilities!

One thing I also mentioned last time, was how saying more yes doesn’t just create fun opportunities and possibilities, it also helps establish deeper connections to others. I’d like to elaborate on this a little.

When my friend asked me what I’d do if he told me he wasn’t feeling too brilliant and how feeling like that held him back from socializing with me, he turned my answer around. If I would come see him in that case, why do I not let someone else do that for me?

bridges2

Sharing my ‘not-best self’ is very confronting, but my guess is that anyone feels that way. One thing I learned over the past one/two years though, is that sharing isn’t just caring, sharing is also healing (Sounds so much better in Dutch though, doesn’t it Joosje?)

Where my first response is to turn inwards when I am not feeling brilliantly, doing the opposite (opening up about it) might be exactly what could help fix things. Over the past year or so, I got a lot better at sharing my struggles, but I mostly got a lot better at sharing my pást struggles. I did not realize I still had trouble in sharing what’s going on ‘in the now’ until my friend pointed out what I am really doing.

My friend got a little angry with me about this. He told me how unfair it is that I close off whenever I am feeling down, rather than to share it. Even though that might sound a bit harsh, he has a really valid point. It is not just through sharing good times that we create a deeper bond with others; it is through sharing our struggles. Our scars make us living beings, but it is our struggles that make us human. And beyond that; it is the sharing of those struggles that makes us connect with other human beings.

Not letting someone into your life when things are ‘a little less than perfect’ is compromising the (potential) relationship you (could) have with someone.

Hello, valid point!

Sharing our struggles with others makes us realize how human such struggles are; we all have them. It puts them into perspective; we are not alone. However unfair it seems that we, humans, are the only ones who seem to (mentally) struggle, it is a beautiful gift simultaneously, because it is exactly those struggles that enables us to connect with others.

Excerpt from a song by Train;

bruises

Sharing struggles, opening up and being vulnerable is not a weakness, it’s a strength. It doesn’t make us less perfect; it makes us better. It makes us better people, it makes us better friends and it makes us better in that it helps heal us.  As I said, sharing is caring, but sharing is also healing.

Moving beyond self-doubt

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a thinker. An over-analyzer. It keeps me from doing a lot of things I could or even should be doing (meeting friends, meeting deadlines). This is why I decided that my word of the year 2014 would be ‘yes!’, as in, to say ‘yes’ to things more often rather than thinking in my regular ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

If the past month of doing so made me realize anything, it’s that doing the things I would normally dodge or cancel actually makes me feel a lot better. It’s the breaking out of my comfort zone (which, ironically, isn’t all that comfortable to start with) that creates moments that are completely worthwhile. Setting aside my doubts, anxiety and mostly my insecurity creates a space of actually ‘living’ rather than just thinking about living.

What usually kept (or, still keeps) me from going ahead and doing those things is my insecurity. As someone who overthinks everything, I create a lot of obstacles in my head that block options. Whereas someone else might experience that as difficult, for me it can feel paralyzing. Instead of breaking out, I close off to the possibilities and lock myself in self-doubt.

99p

Over-analysers often tend to be perfectionists as well. If we didn’t care so much about how things turned out, we wouldn’t give them so much thinking time. It’s this perfectionism that often keeps me from socializing. When I don’t feel like I’m in ‘a good place right now’, I’d rather not meet up with friends. I want them to experience my happy me, rather than weighing them down with my less-happy me. A friend of mine confronted me with this recently, by asking me what I’d do if he told me the same thing. What if he told me he wasn’t in his happy place, and that’s why he didn’t want to see me. Would I be okay with that, or would it make me want to see him even more, to help move past the negativity?

Ummm, d’oh! I’d book the first train ticket to come see him!

So why is it that I react so differently when it concerns me? Why do I not allow others to help me move past that negativity? They do not even have to know they are it; I know from experience that going ahead and saying ‘yes’ to things that make me háve to break out of my self-doubt and step into ‘real life’ are already enough to break out of the negative space.

I know everybody goes through hard times. I know nobody feels perfect all the time.

It is extremely silly to accept that as a ‘no problem!’-thing from others, yet allowing it become the main reason to lock myself away from enjoying life and all the amazing people in it when it concerns myself.

If I do not expect others to be 100% happy all the time, why do I expect myself to be so? And how did I let that translate into the silly notion that others expect that of me as well?

The thing is: they don’t. Nobody (well, except myself) expects me to be 100% perfect. Ever. Because, deep down, we all know better than that. We all know that nobody ever is. Realizing this is one thing. Acting on it is another. Moving past that self-doubt, those insecurities and that self-made pressure is not easy, but so far, it’s been worth it. Saying ‘yes’ to things has opened so many opportunities not just for fun things, but also for deeper connection. But more on that next time.

One thing I’d like to share now, though, is a realization I had: My paralyzing over-analysing is not a ‘given fact’. Yes, it is part of me, a big part of me, even. But, it’s not like I cannot work on it and go against it, if I put in the effort to do so. Being aware of this habit is the first step into moving past it. It’s not like I broke the habit and changed my persona in the past month, nor do I expect I ever will. But I did realize that, even though it might be my first response to let myself overthink and freeze up, I can decide to make a different choice and go against that initial response. And that is quite a liberating realization!

Plan of action

Plan of action, in no particular order:

– Sort out my sleeping, or, the lack thereof
– Not return to my parents’ place for at least a few weeks, and if I have to, no longer than one night max.
– Sort out my sleeping. ASAP.
– Sign up for a try-out yoga class
– Sleep, please. SLEEP.
– More coffee dates for laidback socializing
– Sort out the man-situation
– Sleep more
– Get going on my thesis
– Explore my new neighbourhood
– Sleep. Really, I need sleep

 

Sounds all quite do-able, non? It does. I can tackle these. I will. Plan of action will start NOW.

What are you doing RIGHT NOW to feel better?

Pick me up

Just over a month ago I……..

– Ate regularly, stressed little
– Weighed more, wore a smaller size (or, two sizes smaller, to be exact)
– Smiled more, worried less
– Sang and danced all day, never whined
– Was always curious and explorative, never social phobia-backed out
– Ate when hungry, stopped when full
– Never denied myself anything, always in for spontaneous adventures

Right now? Turn ’em all around. How the FUCK did things escalate this quickly?

I feel utterly lost being back in the Netherlands. I realize more and more how University pulls me down. I don’t like the atmosphere, I don’t like my courses, I don’t like the people and I don’t like freezing under self-made stress. I am not motivated, stimulated or excited to do any of this. I am closing off from the Big Bad World again, bingeing as if it’s my sole life purpose and generally feeling incredibly down.

The post-travel blues combined with the ever-so-shitty January blues hit hard, and I should have tried a re-do of my previous February positivity challenge (which I recommend you re-read as well, and tell me if you give it a go again!).

I know I need to pick myself back up, and I’ve done some feeble attempts at it, staying with my resolution of saying more ‘yes’ to things and going out more. And it’s helped, when I managed to actually go through with it and enjoy the moment. But I snap back into zombie-mode immediately after.

This weekend’s post was all I could come up with to explain how I feel. I hate how I know someone else can help me get my shit together, and I hate it even more that I know it’s not a long-term solution. I’m okay, even good, when he’s here; it helps me with routine and general calm- and happiness. But the moment he leaves I am back at square one. I need to do this myself, but I am very aware that I’ve been trying just that for years now. It hasn’t worked before, so how should it now? Yet I don’t want to give in to the temptation of letting someone else temporarily fix me. It wouldn’t be healthy, nor would it be fair.

I need a kick up the arse, and a hefty one while I’m at it. Aye, we’ve heard that one before, haven’t we? Any volunteers?

Q: What do you do to get out of a slump? What are your pick-me-ups? How do you find your mojo back?

Needy

While I moan in compliance
and dually in complaint
you force stop my over-active mind

I have no choice but to surrender
so I let go and close my eyes

The cadence of our time together
makes me forget the mess inside

But when you leave, I am left
with the shreds and shatters I call life

 

2014: A word (Monday Motivations)

Like last year, I had a word with the new year. Or maybe this time, I had a word with myself.

The post published last, was one I wrote when I was still in my Asian bliss. When I was still ín Asia even, to be exact. But after coming home, as always, there was the post-travel blues. The cold weather, Uni stress, deadlines, moving into a new place, the big city life, loneliness, the Dutch weather and the general post-holiday blues combined got to me, as was to be expected. So, it was time to have a word.

First, let’s zapp back a year. Last year I debated between the words ‘balance’ and ‘authenticity’, concluding that they were intertwined. As my word for the year I chose ‘balance’, as it would help me with my path to grounding in authenticity as well. Now I must admit, I did not think of my word very often. All the more ironic that, looking back, 2013 was indeed for a large part about finding my balance and finding myself again. And, dare I say, I think I came quite a long way in the search.

India-44

Now here is 2014, and like last year, there are two words that made an appearance to me in one form or another. They are thus the two words for me to choose from. One is ‘senang’, and the other is ‘catching up’ (ok, ok… That’s not one word, but you will survive that little detail, right?)

The former word probably needs some translating for you, as it is an Indonesian word. ‘Senang’ has been a word close to my heart for almost ten years. I can’t think of a precise translation, but it means something alone the lines of ‘at peace’, ‘tranquil’ and ‘happy’. In difficult days, I would write and draw all over my body as a form of coping and simultaneously ‘letting it out’. The word ‘senang’ made a regular appearance on my skin.

‘Catching up’ is a more difficult term for me to introduce, as it comes with a lot of heart ache. Now that I’m getting older (oh hey, I forgot to mention; I turned 25 almost three months ago!) I realize more and more of how much I missed out on in life. There’s over two years of devotion to addiction and recovery, but that is just the start. Before all of that visible chaos, there was chaos deep down for years already. I have always been a terribly insecure girl, and this has kept me from so many things. Bubbly and happy on the outside, I was in fact not even close to what a happy adolescent should be like. This leaves me in a very odd position at 25; ready to live life to its fullest, but so far behind on so many levels compared to everyone my age (including my own friends). I realize that on other levels, my history leaves me more mature than most of them combined. This does not, however, take away the fact that I lack a lot of ‘mundane’ (what’s in a name!) life experience. While it is hard to admit and even harder to make happen, I think it’s time I took a plunge and made up for the lost time. I do not plan on behaving like a 16-year old teenager, but it does mean I should start trying scary things that might be so seemingly irrelevant to most others. I must admit, this is scary shit.

‘Senang’, being about tranquillity, seems to be impossibly integrated with ‘catching up’, which is about pushing boundaries. But maybe that’s how an adult should make up for lost years; instead of going wild, doing it in a more peaceful fashion. However, like ‘authenticity’ last year, I think ‘senang’ should go on my long-term list. Both are not things to aim for or achieve within a fixed year time frame. They will come with time and dedication, and I will give them that whatever the year is.

Which means, this year will be a scary one.

Catching up is incredibly intimidating, not just because it requires me to break out of comfort zones, but more so because it requires me to admit (to myself and others) that there are so many things to catch up in.

That is hella confronting stuff. Plus, I am the thinking-kind, not the taking-action-kind; more of a nay-sayer than I’d like to admit. 2014 will be the year to change this. Yay-saying, actively venturing out into the big scary-people-world and making new connections.

2014, bring it on.

2014

While serving food those who needed it, in my ‘other hometown’ across the globe, I realized the irony but especially the beauty of that moment. Me, serving food to the needy. Me not being one of the needy, as I just had a lovely dinner with new and a little less new friends.

That exact moment made me realize that the past nine weeks of travel made me re-find my stable self after those chaotic years. I think I am now able to say, I am okay.  I realized that to heal, sometimes you need to dig deep. Dig deep in yourself. Yet sometimes, healing requires you to break out. Break out and get away from everything you think you are.

And apparently, sometimes, it takes both.

Either way, healing takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of energy, a lot of tears, a lot of trying over and, albeit reluctantly, it indeed also takes a lot of support.

I am not jinxing this, nor am I making any crazy promises or predictions. I just want to say; I am thankful. For everything (yes, everything!) and everyone in my life, I am thankful.

Happy (late) new year you all!

India-49

Namaste :)

 

The third party, AKA; a partner

I am not necessarily one of analogies, however, sometimes they really do help make a point.

The other day, as I was thinking of how to explain the chaos in my head and its effect on my (physical) confidence, I realized something. That, my relationship with my body is like an abusive relationship. Yes, I know, what an epiphany right? But I don’t just mean that I abuse my body (which I have and occasionally still do), but, that the relationship is very much like an actual abusive marriage. Let me explain.

The abusive relationship takes place in a supposedly safe haven (the home, or in this case, my head). It is thus separated from the outside world and from external interference. It’s not something you would easily discuss with others. And this is how it can subsist, because, no one can intervene if they are not in the know. Trouble arises though, when there is a third party involved. Let’s say that, in the analogy, your sister gets evicted and needs to crash at your place while she is in between houses. In my self-abusive relationship, the third party could be a partner. Both times, there’s someone wiggling its way into the privacy of this abusive relationship. Someone is (about) to become aware of it.

You can’t hide the fact your husband beats you around the house daily for your sister who is now living in the same space. Just like I can’t hide the fact I (verbally) abuse my body daily to someone who is to share this physical realm with me.

I have good days, sometimes even good weeks. Times like those, I can follow my intuition and my heart. ‘Wanna stay over at my place tonight?’ all of a sudden becomes a very plausible option. ‘Do I want to? I think I do? Okay!’

Kiss me, as therapy, or give me, butterflies, alternatively

Kiss me, as therapy, or give me, butterflies, alternatively

But then, there’s the not good days, or even weeks. All of a sudden I want to hibernate, I don’t want to see people, not even him. And if I do find a way to push myself to drop by for a moment, I come up with the lamest excuse to go home at 3.30 AM just so I don’t have to spend the night. This is already confusing to myself, let alone to someone else!

Having him in my chaos-space, in my physical realm, means things will come to light that I have always kept to myself. The sister staying at your place will mean the unseen will be seen. This does too. And so, it needs to be addressed.

Having your sister in your abusive home helps you shed some light on your situation as well. What has become normal to you, all of a sudden feels not normal. The fact you feel as though someone is intruding your personal (secret) space, the fact you WANT to hide it, already emphasises that it’s not normal to you either. Your sister may even be able to help pull an escape card.

Having a third party in my personal space helps me shed light on the fact I am still not totally at terms with my (new) (physical) self. That I am not as okay with my body as I thought I was. That it is not judgement of someone else I am fearing, but that it is the judgement I have already impeded on myself that is the abnormal here. That it’s not normal to secretly bash myself daily. Maybe having someone in this space can help me break the habit.

What it takes, though, is honesty. Soul baring honesty. Firstly, it means honestly admitting to myself that I ain’t all that okay with myself yet, not as much as I thought I was, anyway. It means admitting I still have quite some work to do. And secondly, it means being honest with my third party. About my own struggles, about my body image issues and about my mood/confidence swings. About it being internal rather than external, but still involving him in the process. Someone else is not going be the answer or the solution, but they can help shed some light and lend a helping hand at times.

To figure out my ‘self’

Addictions are, in most cases, ways to dodge life. Coping mechanisms to avoid facing the truth, to avoid feeling difficult feelings, experiencing hurt and sorrow, making choices, etc. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that our addictions can make us forget who we really are. Or were. Or wanted to become.

I know that, when I embarked on the road of recovery, I found myself completely clueless of who I had become and who I once was. Was there a me left or was it just my addiction? Who was I without my addiction? Who was Sooz? What was her core? Her values? What was she good at, what did she like, what didn’t she like? What were her goals, motivations, plans? I was completely lost for any of those answers.

So I made lists. Religiously. About anything and everything really, but also about ‘me’. And I made others’ do the same. My mom, my best friends. I asked them, too, to make lists or ABC’s of things that reminded them of me. Just so I could get a grip again on who I was, who I was to others, who I was to me and to figure out who I wanted to become. You can’t make choices if you don’t have a clue of the direction you want to go. In order to recover and ‘find myself again’, I had to understand where it was that I was heading. To lead the life of the woman who I wanted to become, I needed to understand who she was.

In learning to find, accept and eventually love myself, I needed an understanding of what that ‘self’ was.

green green grass

If you struggle with the same thing, find that you  are lost in who you are and who you want to be in the future, maybe doing something similar could help. Like making lists or collages or mood boards or ABC’s etc of things that you like or love. Things that suit you, that make you happy, that mean something to you. You could ask others to do the same thing as well. What things spur to mind when they think of you? What do they appreciate about you? My collages had quotes, colours, fabrics, words, photo’s. My ABC’s (my own and others’) were not focussed on physical references (“tall”? I knew that!), but words like “truth”, “mom”, or, “bare feet in cooling grass”. Things that feel close to your heart, or that once did and with which you would like to reconnect. Memories, plans and things to figure out. It doesn’t have to be clear, or even ‘graspable’, as long as they mean something to you.

What makes you your unique and beautiful and amazing (and maybe sometimes annoying) you? What are some words that spring to mind when you think of ‘your self’?

PS: I am linking this post to the gorgeous Anne-Sophie, who is hosting a ‘self-love blogging carnival’ this week. Do check it out!