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!

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.

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!
 

Monday Motivation / Musings

its-all-in-you

I wanted to share this, because it resonated with me.

Why did it resonate?

Because, while writing someone two weeks ago, in my mind I jumbled together the following;

‘You are exactly what, where and who you are supposed to be’.

Now, I am not calling copyright on this. I am sure other people, great minds, have written this if not similar things. But, it made so much sense. I so longer for this person (and everyone reading this!) to be able to feel that. To feel that they were just right being them. To not Always feel like having to compromise a little something here, to change a little something there. To add some, to deny some, to diminish some.

It has become so natural to so many of us to continuesly renegotiate ourselves. Who we are, what do we stand for, what do we want out of life, what is our purpose? Why, or why not did something happen? Shouldn’t we, or couldn’t we have?

If only we could grasp to this inner truth of being just right, would be such a powerful thing. As the above picture says, we have all we need to deal with all we face. Because we are enough, we are just right! And by acknowledging that, by feeling that, grasping it, we can use it. See it as the powerful burning flame inside us that it is and let it warm us up from the inside. Glow, gleam, shine, beam!

If we would use that flame inside us as a beakon of hope and power instead of continuously burning our fingers trying to manipulate it. When we stop questioning all that we are, could have been or should be. It would leave so much energy to channel in other directions.

Stop waisting time!!

Yes, you read that correctly.
Yes, I wrote that correctly.
I am going to STOP WAISTING MY TIME.

Even though it’s been incredibly low on comments here lately, I just need to write it down. So, here I go.

chartgo
Number = year, S = summer, W = winter. That means this is a 5-year overview. Before = a stable BMI18, I Always hovered around the same weight as a teenage girl. I had lost a miiinor bit early ’08 due to exam year, stress and too much partying. The post 13-S? Ha……… Let’s talk about that for a moment.

I have no idea what my weight is right now, so the BMI20 is my guesstimation. It might be 21 to be honest. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Plus, does it matter whether it’s a 20 or a 21? Both are healthy, and both are a lot more than I have ever been. It’s also both double of what I once was. Yeah. I halved myself, and then doubled myself. Both weight as well as BMI wise.

I haven’t been on a scale since………… I wouldn’t know! Honest to Lord, I can’t remember the last time I actually weighed myself. I have never owned a scale in my life, but when I moved back in with my parents (Autumn ’10, now you can guess why that was judging by the graph above), I had access to a scale again. Thats when I managed to get hit my most ultimate low (winter 2010). Yeah, me and scales aren’t buddies.

When I went to the ER that cold January morning, I wasn’t even weighed. My father was furious, but hey, it’s not like they needed a scale to see that the girl standing there wasn’t exactly a healthy weight. Nothing much you can do to hide the fact your half your healthy weight. When I enrolled into the local eating disorder facility, I was supposed to be weighed every time. They didn’t always do so, because sometimes I wouldn’t let them (I felt so humiliated, being ordered to take off my clothes and step on a scale in a cold, dusty bathroom with a double lock on the door in their facility), much to the dismay of my father again, but alas.

Weight became something to be obsessively focussed about, and this didn’t start being a thing until I decided I had to gain it. Weight, ironically, was never an issue until the moment I had to get it back on. At the clinic, they taught me to set myself goals. All these goals, however, were weight-related. I got myself a present (ridiculously expensive perfume) when I hit a certain mark. That mark was what I thought would be my ‘perfect weight’. Never mind that it was a BMI16, but that’s where I thought I would “naturally balance out” (ha, ha). And the facility agreed it was a lovely goal. But then again, they never took me seriously anyway.

My point is, that my recovery was all focussed around weight. All my goals, all my slip-ups, everything that was monitored by a psychiatrist and a nurse, everything I had ever put on paper with them as guidelines; everything was weight-related. And my eating disorder had never been about weight!

This is (part of) the reason why therapy never worked for me. If your eating disorder doesn’t focus around weight, how can weight function as the centre and the measurement of your recovery from it?

Exactly, it doesn’t.

I waisted my time. I wasted my time on measurements. Of body-size, body mass, weight etc.

I left therapy after a few months. I hadn’t gained an ounce in the entire period. None. I had gained a few kg before I entered, and gained everything else after. But this also means that I had lost all faith in professional help, as well as I had never really gotten to the core of what my eating disorder (and thus it’s ‘fix’) was all about.

The past few months I have been actively trying to let myself eat without set rules and limits. No, that is not the same as bingeing. Yes, it did involve a lot of bingeing. But hear me out.

dejamoo - source unknown(I know this is what you’re thinking while reading this post)

Eating without set limits and rules means learning to no longer fear foods. Mind you, I didn’t really manage to do so until I had FULLY stopped any form of restriction/compensation. None! But even then, a meal plan which tells you what and when to eat doesn’t tackle the fears and the varieties. So when I had managed to eliminate compensatory behavior, and after I had reached a BMI20, I opened the floodgates of hell. Kiding. Sorta.

It means some days I eat nothing but junk. Some days, I eat a lot of junk in one go and that’s it. And some days, I eat none. And that’s no longer because I read that ‘your body will balance it out naturally’, which my mind would then interprete as ‘today I will not crave anything chocolatey because I already had some yesterday’. I just went with what was réally going on instead of forcing the craving (or the lack thereof) on myself.

It took a giant leap of faith. And a change of mindset from my parents too. Whereas before, they would clear the house before I came, or come barging right into the kitchen if I was there for longer than two nano-seconds, I asked them to just leave me be. Yes, the beginning mostly meant I had to eat everything in sight, or at least have a few bites of everything in sight, so I could ‘get it out of my system’. Because if there was food I hadn’t tasted before/hadn’t tried this time/hadn’t allowed myself since forever/caught my attention/caught my craving or whatever, I couldn’t ignore it and go do something else. It would continue to plague my mind until I had found a way to sneak it out and eat it in secrecy, or if I couldn’t find a way to do so, wait until I got home and then all hell would break lose because I felt like ‘I had denied myself something’ and be damned my body would make up for it by eating everything else it could get its hands on. But believe it or not (don’t worry, I didn’t believe this either), there is this point where your head doesn’t instantly goes bananas the second there’s a bar of chocolate in sight. Or a 2liter tub of ice cream. Or your mother’s weekend load of sinful shoppings.

I know right?

Now, the disclaimer is; I am not even halfway there yet. I still binge. I still try to ignore cravings sometimes. I still am a walking mess of a recovering eater. But SO much has changed since I have granted myself the permission to JUST.EAT. Whatever. Whenever. Not ‘never too much, mostly greens’. Or, ‘until your full’. Or, paleo, primal, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, flour-free, liquid only, ehhh whatever. NONE of that any longer applies. I have full permission to go with it and see where it will take me.

And just try to make sure I don’t go absolutely NUTS in the process, I have finally acknowledged I might need a little help. So, I have made the first steps in that process too.

PS; I would like to make clear that I DO NOT THINK that BMI’s are unimportant. I know a few (?) of you disagree on this, but I think that most of you will know it ís indeed incredibly important once you get to a (stable) healthy 19/20++ (PLUS PLUS) BMI. My focus, my energy, my ability to comprehend and respond and feel free of ED-thoughts and behaviors changed dramatically since then. Also, the no-restriction and no-compensation rule is KEY in here as well (hence the ‘stable’ part). Not just stable monitoring-wise, but also stable intake and mind wise. I promise you (yes, I think I really do promise you), when you reach a stable, healthy weight without purging/restricting/compensating, you’re entering a new world (again). Paradigms shift y’all.