To the me I used to be

As many of you may know, yesterday was October 31st. Some cultures celebrate it as a sacred day, others don’t celebrate it at all. In my corner of the world it is celebrated as a fun, commercialized way of being in brief community with neighbors you don’t know, with children in costume knocking on doors and acceptably begging for candy, while caregivers observe from a short distance…aka Halloween. (It’s also a way for those same caregivers to get their own sugar rush when they tax the candy haul.)

Anyway, that only has passing connection to why I’m writing today.

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. For some of us who blog, this is Nano Poblano – “the World’s Least-Official November Blog Challenge”

I won’t be writing a post a day, as I have attempted in other challenges. Instead, I’m committing to 10 posts this month. I’ll also be linking to 10 other posts this month.

Welcome to my first post of the month. Now, back to what I was writing about.

Last night I shared the requisite costume pic of my youngest, who will be 11 in a little over a month.

She looks older, huh? Sooo not ready for that.

When I woke up this morning, there were many “👍” and a few “♥️.” The last “like” was from a guy who had attended the same high school as I did. Just about the only interactions we have are reading and occasionally clicking our reaction to each other’s posts. But, he posts nice pictures of nature and other things I find mildly interesting. We reconnected at our 30 year class reunion a couple of years ago.

He may or may not remember, but, we had previously connected on FB back in 2010 or 2011, when I first joined the ‘book. It ended after a contentious interaction when the world didn’t end according to the 2012 Mayan Calendar predictions.

Depression had its hold on me and I posted some joke about being disappointed that the predictions had been wrong. He took exception to that and expressed his disagreement and disapproval.

That triggered anxiety and activated my defensiveness. I felt attacked. I was shaky and feeling threatened for no apparent reason. That was about the time another h.s. acquaintance and I got in conflict over something else, entirely.

I reactively “purged” my FB account, hoping to deactivate my hypervigilant hypersensitivity of the moment. I remember that I still felt threatened in some vague, amorphous way.

Some of that stemmed from my desire and need to be understood and accepted. However, I equated being understood with being agreed with and being accepted meant being justified and approved of. Anything else felt like I was under attack and unsafe.

I still don’t really understand the root reasons I experience anxiety around feeling rejected and not acceptable. I guess that hearkens back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with a sense of belonging being a basic need.

All I know, is that my gut clenched, my breathing got shallow, and my heart hammered when I saw the guy at our class reunion. Our online disagreement had such an impact on me. I wanted to avoid him and hide, because I was certain he would remember our interaction and be judging me by it.

Chances are he doesn’t remember that interaction. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be connected today. If he does remember, it likely doesn’t matter to him one way or the other. Regardless, the fact is that a molehill had been amplified to seem like a mountain, and, I think it’s possible that interaction will stay with me for a long time.

Part of me looks back on that time and sees the degree and type of reactivity and judges past me harshly. However, there’s a bigger part of me that understands and accepts who I was back then.

So, here’s my message to the me I used to be:

I love you. You’re not ridiculous and never were. You were living with the results of trauma. You were living without knowledge or understanding of the mental illnesses in your brain. I’m proud of you. You knew your reactions were signs you needed help and you paid attention to those signs. You had the courage to ask for help. You put in the work to change, heal and grow. You had the strength of character to own the consequences of your actions and behaviors from then and before. I’m grateful to you. You made me, me. You’re amazing. Thank you.


28 Days of Heyku and Blogging

I know my posts have been quite sporadic and inconsistent. I’m planning on changing that with July and another round of The Ultimate Blog Challenge in conjunction with the accountability and commitment Facebook community group, hosted by Robert Kennedy III, 28 Days To A New Me.

In May I focused on creating a new habit of getting physically active. Since I could break a sweat and need to take a breather after doing something as fundamentally basic as taking a shower, needing to rest before even getting dressed on some days so that I wouldn’t pour sweat just from the action of drying my body with a towel, I had to start small.

No, I’m not exaggerating and, yes, it was that bad. I had allowed the physical symptoms of both the fibromyalgia and depression to rise to epic proportions and immobilize me physically. I had been doing a tremendous amount of mental, emotional, and spiritual work, from the confines of my tiny apartment and barely moved from the couch or bed. Constantly fatigued, achy, and with excruciating lower back and sciatic pain from a probable herniated disc from March 2012, I was beginning to resemble the thing I’d been teased about as a young tween – Jabba the Hut.

I weighed nearly 270 pounds and was starting to think I would outgrow my 3x wardrobe, what little there is of it. Poor Luna had to use the furniture as her playground and Jungle Gym to get her activity needs met, since the perception of pain and weakness in my left leg and knee was so intense, I was terrified to go down the stairs and knew I wasn’t physically capable of keeping her safe and protected if she got out of arm’s reach of me.

So, I committed to 15 minutes of physical activity a day, whatever that looked like. Some days it was merely cleaning the kitchen. Other days it was walking, swimming, or doing the elliptical. By the end of May I was walking over four miles at a time or lap swimming for an hour and a half.

This month, since I no longer had someone here every day to be with Luna as she slept in the mornings, I committed to continuing the exercising and increasing the commitment to an hour a day. I also made the primary commitment to log and track all of my food intake.

I designated both of these actions as part of my ongoing process of raising self-awareness and practicing presence.

What I’ve learned and become aware of through these activities and my participation in the Circle of Security therapeutic parenting class I just completed, is that I’m profoundly disconnected from my self – especially on emotional and physical levels.

I experienced a lot of conflict and crises this month. I also processed some pretty intense and traumatic realizations about myself and a major unresolved issue around growing up fatherless. I saw how connected my eating patterns and food choices were to the emotional and psychological experiences I was having. I also noticed that it was more difficult to make the exercise a priority in those moments.

However, I am pleased to report that physical activity is now my preferred “go to” action over eating when I’m feeling stressed.

One critical piece of my self-care, healing and recovery process is writing. Many of you who have been with me here for any length of time know this about me. This blog had been my primary DIY therapeutic tool. Since I haven’t been posting much, I suspect that was part of the reason why consistent action was more of a struggle this month.

Approximately two weeks ago I discovered the Heyku app. It is a writing tool that offers writing prompts in a guided and modified haiku or it can be written free verse style.

It’s almost like a mini mash up of Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress with the likes, commenting, and automated sharing whenever a Heyku is written. The editors are doing a fantastic job of connecting and promoting, as well as community building. Since June 14th I’ve composed 79 Heykus and seven of them have been chosen for The Editor’s Desk! A few of them have been fairly mundane and practical in nature, but the majority have been moments about time spent with Luna, creative prose about practicing presence, and me processing the things I alluded to earlier.

Therefore, I have decided to commit to this blog and my writing as part of my self-care process. I will share my Heykus here each day, at the very least, while continuing the activity and food logging commitments.

Here are the Heykus that erupted from my insomnia: