Category Archives: self care

lightbulb moment

It’s my thyroid, I’m sure of it.

The exhaustion that never seems to end, except for the couple of hours after the naps I apparently need on a daily basis (but don’t get them that often, sadly), the…

Well, it’s mainly the exhaustion.  I was thinking my depression meds needed tweaking, but now that I am paying more attention (something I’m not always that good at), I’m noticing that emotionally I’m ok (except for the frustration over not having any energy).  I’m just so dang tired all the time.

I’ve had hypothyroidism for years and things were normal when they checked my blood in May, but May and October are not next-door neighbors and I’m pretty sure that things have gone downhill in the thyroid hormone department.  Right now I’m waiting on the lab results so that my doctor will increase my medication and that should do the trick.

I just really want to go to sleep in the meantime.

hold on tight

Jo asked me how I am.

The answer is—really, really great.

In the couple of weeks before my appendectomy I felt a definite shift in my thinking, a definite shift in my approach to the world.  (Then the appendicitis hit and all of July was basically a wash.)  Of course, I didn’t become a different person and I have plenty of neuroses and issues left to sift through, but right now they’re not making me feel like a failure.  Right now I feel like I’ve turned a corner.

A piece of this corner-turning has come from starting to learn the Alexander Technique.  For quite a while my therapist had been suggesting that I take up an activity to help me have better awareness of my body.  She suggested both yoga and the Feldenkrais method and I was trying to figure out something that would work well for me.  Serendipitously, I discovered that a woman from my divorce recovery class is a teacher of the Alexander Technique, which I had never heard of before.  It’s a bit hard for me to explain what it is, but Wikipedia says it is

an alternative medicine and educational discipline focusing on bodily coordination, including psychological principles of awareness. It is applied for purposes of recovering freedom of movement, in the mastery of performing arts, and for general self-improvement affecting poise, impulse control and attention.

During the lessons I’ve had, my teacher will have me sit, stand, or do other basic movements.  She then instructs me (often using light touch) to change my movement or position.  The changes are usually quite subtle, but I have found the sessions quite powerful, even overwhelming.  I often get dizzy, which seems to be a signal that we’re moving too quickly (I never would have thought before that such slight movements could cause a change in my blood pressure, but there you go).  Also, the idea that we’re moving too “quickly” often seems strange, as the changes in movement or position I make are quite slight.

The thing I like the best about my lessons (other than my friend’s giving me a hefty discount in her fee) is how I feel when I leave.  I feel really present inside my body, and have an awareness of my body that does not normally come easily to me.

Another thing I really like about learning this technique is that I am not just learning better posture, but the lessons that I learn about my physical self all seem to be mirrored in the rest of my life, and so I am learning about me.

I could give you a number of examples (and may, in the coming days), but the one I think about the most has to do with how I hold my shoulders, neck, and jaw.  Much of the time I hold everything very tightly:  clenching my jaw, scrunching my shoulders up, tensing my neck.

This is actually the same way that I hold on to the rest of my life.  I’ve noticed this posture in myself most when I am anxious (which comes much more frequently than I ever was aware before), when I feel that something is out of my control, out of my grasp, when I feel the ground shifting below my feet.  I have noticed that this feeling comes many, many times a day.  I hold myself as if bracing for a blow, as if trying to keep all the plates spinning.  And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

In learning to let my shoulders release, my jaw unclench, I have noticed that as soon as I am able to do so, a bit of the angst leaves my belly, my arms feel looser, my heart is lighter.  This has become a physical reminder that I don’t have to hold all the pieces in place, I will be okay if the plates fall, there is no theoretical fist waiting in the wings to wallop me.

My teacher suggested that when I notice that my jaw is tight, to focus on how my feet are stable on the ground, how I am solid in my chair.  I don’t have to hold myself up completely.  The earth is perfectly capable of holding my weight.  It is not all on my shoulders to micro-manage.  If the plates fall and crash, the earth will still be here, holding me up.

inside/outside

So Mr. X is getting married in about a week and a half.

Obviously, I have some complicated feelings about this.

The ones that rise to the surface the most, however, have something to do with feeling bad because it appears that he has advanced so much more than I have in the “recovery” process.  Of course, I know this isn’t likely the case because a) I know him, and it is highly unlikely that he has actually dealt with any of his feelings about the end of our marriage, b) as he was almost immediately in this new relationship after we separated, even if he were the type of person to be self-reflective and want to truly heal, being in a rebound relationship would make that hard.

Of course, all of that is speculation on my part.  My good friend Cherry has said to me (more than once and about different situations, I might add), that I shouldn’t judge my insides by someone else’s outsides.

Sounds simple enough, but it is so hard for me to remember.  The problem is, I know all of my inner foibles.  Intimately.  They are as obvious to me (or perhaps more obvious) than the face I show outwardly.  Meanwhile, I’m holding them up to compare to others’ public selves—the private me vs. the shined-up and polished public them.  Is it any wonder I sometimes often find myself lacking?  Wouldn’t anyone?

As I continue practicing my new self-love skills, I try to remember that playing that game is a set-up from the start.  And I’m working on not judging my insides at all.

repetition

Back when I worked in a home-visiting program for pregnant women and new mothers (I know, such a perfect job for an infertile, right?) I remember an analogy I would use with the moms, most of whom were teenagers.  I don’t remember the context exactly, but it was something about having to repeat things with babies and young children a lot—words, or stories, something like that.  The analogy I used (as most of them were so fresh out of school, or, if they were lucky, still in school) was math class.  When you’re learning a new concept in math, the teacher doesn’t have you just do one or two practice problems.  You have to do many, over and over.  Often on multiple assignments, because that’s how we learn—through repetition.

Today I got caught up in some back-and-forth nonsense in my mind—the one where I try to convince myself to do something because it’s “good” for me, or because I’m “bad” for not doing it, and then the other side of my mind starts in with the disappointed sighing because I’m not 100% accepting of myself, or because I’m not doing x, y, or z 100% perfectly.  At some point during all this mental noise, I remembered the lesson that I’ve been thinking about for a long time—self love.  Somehow, I remembered that the important lesson for me is learning to love myself, learning to care for myself, learning to treat myself with kindness, and the other things will work themselves out.  I took a sigh of relief and set the mental gymnastics aside for the moment.

I can look over the past two years (at least) and pick out multiple times that I’ve “learned” this lesson, and somehow, I get busy, or stressed, and I look up and it’s nowhere to be found.

And that’s ok.  I misplace this lesson, but it keeps finding its way back to me.  I stumble back upon it over, and over, and over, and over.

And that’s how I learn.  By doing those math problems over and over and over again.

And sometimes I do the addition incorrectly.  And sometimes I forget the formula altogether.  But, so far, there’s always been another chance to learn it around the corner.

And this is a lesson that I think I’ll be practicing for a long time to come.

randomness

  • Still sore.  I think this is the sorest I’ve ever been from working out.  The next time I see that evil, evil man the trainer will be Wednesday morning.  Probably just as I’m starting to feel better. 🙂
  • Of course, I’m probably sorer than usual this time because I’m more out of shape than previously.
  • Migraines are a bit improved.  The needle lady had me stop taking one of the supplements, and they seem to be getting better (though they’re still around part of the time, of course).
  • The group.  I have read one chapter out of the three that were “homework.”  I called two people, one didn’t answer.  I got one phone call (don’t think that counts as one of the three calls I’m supposed to make during the week).
  • I have made a connection between this physical ouchy-ness and my feelings.  With all of this physical pain, I hesitate to sit, or move in certain ways sometimes because when I start to make the movement—ouch, ouch, OUCH, it’s going to hurt!  Once I actually pull up my big-girl panties and just do whatever it is, it’s usually not that bad.  There are a lot of feelings rolling around in me that I react to in much the same way.  I start to get close to them and ouch, ouch, OUCH, it’s going to hurt!  And I won’t say it’s a field of daisies once I do feel those pesky feelings, but it’s often not as bad as I tell myself it’s going to be.

pain

First training session today at the gym.

Ouch.

He said that we’ll be sorest in two days.

At this point, I’m scared to think about it.

That is all.

roman numeral time

During my session this week, my acu.puncturist, K, and I were talking about my “stuff” and my attempts to deal with it.  She talked to me about a helpful mantra, a phrase that I could say to myself to calm myself when the shaking gets really bad, or when I start to feel really anxious (the two tend to go together, at any rate).  I told her about a simple phrase that had come to me a while ago, over a year ago, I think.  Recently, it came back to me.

My big phrase?  “You’re doing fine.”

Now, this may not sound like any big revelation to you, but to me, it has been the only thing I’ve needed to hear, so many times.

The thing is, the older, more established voices in my head don’t say this at all; they don’t even know what “doing fine” means.  The oldest voices in my head only know how to pressure and push, how to belittle and berate.  So, “you’re doing fine,” can sound like a foreign language in the midst of the words I normally say to myself.

I say all that just to say, it doesn’t come easily to me, this self-kindness business.

So, K and I were talking about this, my attempts at self-kindness, and how lately that has looked a lot like hiding out in a cave, and not doing any of the social things that my head tells me I should do in order to make everyone else happy.

K then told me, that she thought that in the outline of my life, this time would be marked with a Roman numeral.  This is one of the biggies, one of the marks in bold on the time-line.  This time, this period of “divorcing from X” is a watershed moment in which everything about my life is changing, is changed.

Roman numeral time is sacred.  In Roman numeral time, we can often find earth-moving lessons in the most mundane affairs.  In Roman numeral time, we ourselves are open to be changed.  Something about one’s life being laid bare can get you down to the essentials, can open you up to seeing what you couldn’t before.

So my priorities now are being tweaked a bit.  In the light of all that, pressuring myself to get A, B, or C done just seems silly.  The task for me now, today,as I heal, is to move through this time with an awareness of the significance of this phase and to love myself the best I can through it.

After all, “I’m doing fine, it’s Roman numeral time.”