15 minutes of gibberish.

15 minute free write. No edits. No looking back. Just me, the spare time, and the publish post button.

Some insight I learned about myself today:

-I still don’t take criticism and feedback nearly as well as I would like to. Even though I can be very harsh on myself, I don’t like when others point out my flaws (it’s like, I’d rather them be hidden than be transparent and exposed to everyone else!). I imagine this comes from a place of really, deeply wanting to be liked by others: when I receive criticism, I assume it’s because people dislike me (even when the criticism is constructive). I must be mindful that I am not Perfect. Perfect is a nonexistence.

-I cannot be present all the time, either. I’ve learned how to be in the here-and-now more than I have ever been before, and I am grateful that I can appreciate the beauty that is just LIVING. However, it’s unrealistic to expect myself to be in a meditative trance as I move through life. I cannot be 100% of anything. I am doing my best, and that’s all I need to ask of myself.

-I can actually get ready really quickly when I oversleep.

-Externalizing the negative self-talk is effective for so many people. I was talking about this with a client today. Give the distorted thoughts a NAME. Challenge them. Fight them. Do whatever you have to do to recognize that disorder’s voice is NOT yours. It may be a part of you, sure, but it isn’t you. You have the power to rationalize, reason, and get dirty with it. 

-I am more existential than most people- I think about issues and the universe in ways that others find obscure or even neurotic. I actually can really embrace this part of myself now. My boyfriend and I can shoot the shit on philosophy and existentialism and the intricacy of human conditions for hours on end. We teach other and learn through each other and spew ideas off each other. It makes me feel validated and grounded. The universe is vast. We are specs. Mere, fucking specs. Just floating around in this colossal space. 

-There is no real definition for failure. There is also no real definition for success. What may be a perceived failure for one person may be a success for another. You can only REALLY be a failure when YOU decide you are a failure. The same is true for being a success. My therapist once told me, maybe it’s not failure you fear. Maybe it’s success. This has long stuck with me. Failure is predictable and keeps us constricted, timid, and apprehensive. Failure, in a sense, keeps us safe and boxed. But success? Success means the sky is the limit. Success means breaking barriers we thought were unbreakable. Success opens the door for all kinds of impossible opportunities, for experience we never thought could be ours. That is much more wild. Failure is something we all know…most of us can pinpoint a self-defined failure. But success? Real success? The act of succeeding remains with us far less than the act of failing.

-I am running out of things to write. Has it been 15 minutes yet?

-J/K. Like I could EVER run out of things to write!

-How do people find this blog? Google? Other blogs? I haven’t even been reading other people’s blogs lately. I haven’t been subscribing to anything…but I’m so glad I still have my loyal fan base and following on here. You guys keep me inspired and lifted and positive and hopeful! I feel honored to be able to express myself to such a wide audience of anonymous, beautiful souls.

-This is turning into such a list….la dee dah. I’m tired. 12-hour days can be brutal. Ready for sleep! 

-How would I live without the construct of time? Seriously, WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT A CLOCK? How differently would I live? Would I be more in touch with my intuition? With the natural lightness and darkness of the day? With the motions of the weather? How would that look? It would be a great experiment. The only time I get close to that is when I am camping or out in nature…but even then, someone ALWAYS has the time, it seems. We need time for structure- we need time to feel safe.

-Speaking of time, I’m done writing this. Technically, I wanted to write for another two and a half minutes…but, my intuition is telling me this post is over. 

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Change is a product of acceptance.

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Dear Bee,

I reread this quote at least three times while going through my assigned reading for a trauma and grief class. It absolutely amazes me. Rogers, first of all, is a brilliant genius in the realm of psychotherapy. His person-centered model of therapy has truly changed the way therapists interact with their clients. Second of all, just let this quote soak in.

Radical acceptance is something I frequently talk about on this blog, simply because the concept has helped me IMMENSELY. Before recovery (and many times during recovery), I have RESISTED myself, my urges, and my behaviors. I would look at myself and see only the things I needed to change, remove, or hide. The idea of accepting myself? No, that was unfathomable. I always thought I was traveling on the fast-moving train towards bettering myself, when, in reality, I was trekking on some unachievable mission to reach the point of utter perfection, because I assumed that place was the same meeting ground as the point of utter happiness. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the greatest version of yourself. There is, however, something deeply distorted when you do not believe you have any baseline of greatness to start with.

Change is hard. Incredibly hard. Even when we think we want it or know we need it more than anything. The initial steps may be easy, but once the novelty wears thin, we often regress right back to our homeostatic states. Why do we seek change? Because we feel stagnant or insecure. Because we know we deserve better. Because we want to improve some area in our life. Rarely does change come naturally or passively. Change is a product of our environment and our actions, our decisions and our influences. We must trust ourselves in order to change ourselves. We must stay by our own sides. If not, we engage in war with ourselves. We will resist, fight, and try and stop the changing, even if it’s good for us, even if it’s what we think we want or need. We have to be tolerant of the mismatched emotions and accept distress…at least temporarily. We have to become comfortable with living beyond the comfort zone. Comfort with discomfort. Because all change, lasting change, requires a period of discomfort.

In April, I wrote a letter to myself where I forgave myself for every single thing I had ever done (http://loveletterstobee.com/2013/04/02/forgiving-myself-for-every-single-thing-i-have-ever-done/). I did not post the actual letter here. It is folded and next to my bed. I occasionally read it when I need a pick-me-up, when I need to hear my own self tell me how far I’ve come and how wonderful of a person I am. I just find it amazing that I could claim I had no regrets, and yet, I held so many grudges against myself. That letter was eight pages long. I forgave myself for my insecurities, for relationships, for my eating disorder, for my fears and vulnerabilities, for everything I had ever been ashamed or embarrassed about. It was highly therapeutic, and I recommend it for anyone.

I still have to consciously decide to accept myself. All of myself. Because I’m not just parts of a personality. I’m not just the “good things” or the traits that shine on paper or ingredients to a recipe. I’m a whole person: a flawed perfectly imperfect human. I am easily distracted, klutzy, occasionally shy, and unbelievably sarcastic. I don’t own the nicest clothes, my car is always a littered mess of papers, books, and trash, and I cannot draw a straight line or circle to save my life. I still count on my fingers for basic math and recite the alphabet in my head when I need to place things in order. I will never win a beauty pageant nor be mistaken for a model. But I love the life I have been given, and I accept all the adversities and pain that have come and will come with it.

I accept that I am in recovery for an eating disorder. I accept that I don’t always like recovery and don’t always want to work recovery. I accept that I have carried years of shame and self-loathing. I accept that I have eaten entire pizzas and boxes of pop-tarts and bags of cookies and cartons of ice cream and cried over them. I accept that I have stolen food, eaten secretly in dark cars and bathrooms, and lied about eating. I accept that I have exercised to the point of nausea and muscle deterioration. I accept that I have worked out at two in the morning in the middle of the dark…just because I “needed to.” I accept that I have canceled plans because my eating disorder was too strong at that moment. I accept that I have chain-chewed packs of gum to avoid eating and binge-drank coffee or tea to excessively urinate (and therefore, weigh less). I accept that I have chosen intoxication of alcohol over intoxication of food. I accept that I have zoned out during entire conversations because I was too preoccupied with thinking about eating. I accept that, in high school, I was secretly excited the first time I lost my period, because I thought it meant I was finally on the track to anorexia. I accept that I hated what I looked like, what I weighed, and what I thought of myself for years.

I accept that I still have these urges, even though I do not like them. I even accept that I still occasionally use these behaviors, even though I do not like them.

Acceptance is not synonymous with enjoyment. Acceptance is synonymous with forgiveness, with saying, it’s okay, with saying, I’m human, and I am enough UNCONDITIONALLY. Imagine how much easier change can be when you are supporting, rather than completely fighting, yourself.

We need to talk about how much I trip, spill, and break.

Dear Bee,

Clumsiness is one of my greatest assets. Seriously, one of these days, I need to put it down on my resume. But ever since school started, two weeks ago, my awkward encounters have been worse than usual. To summarize, I’ve gotten a UTI, torn a skirt, spilled stuff all over a shirt, did an applause-worthy trip, chipped a tooth (on a fork. I kid you not), spent two hours messing up an entire software program, burnt myself, and literally forgotten something essential every single one of those days.

I’d like to chalk it up to bad luck, but let’s face it. My multitasking is back in full swing, and although I used to pride myself on the ability to pump out a 5-page essay in one hour while simultaneously listening to music, stalking Facebook, and texting, I know that this type of fanatic energy only increases the anxiety I am trying to deplete. 

I. Need. To. Slow. Down.

Mindfulness, staying present, focusing on one task at a time. Sounds great in theory. Sounds like the advice I’d tell anyone to follow. But in actuality, it’s hard. We run on a 24-hour, round-the-clock treadmill where doing is synonymous with success. Therefore, one must do MORE, MORE, MORE to win. 

And if I need to keep going? Just drink some coffee. 

We’re constantly wired. Buzzes, vibrations, tones…we can distract ourselves with a million different things at any given moment. This isn’t healthy. Not for the mind, body, or soul. And that’s what this recovery journey is all about. Healing the mind, body, and soul. Because they work in tandem. 

We didn’t evolve to engage in simultaneous activity at the same time. In fact, studies show that we decrease our cognition and increase our risks when we do this (texting and driving, anyone? Mindless eating & TV?)

I think a part of my overall recovery needs to focus on just being okay with doing one thing at a time and being comfortable with that. Staying in the task, even if I want to stray away and scroll through my phone or check something online or so on.

Anyways, with that said and done, I’m exhausted. Not much on the eating disorder front. It’s 10pm, and I had two bowls of some generic cereal for dinner. I was too tired to make anything else. Whatever. 

I’m ready to pass out. My schedule is absolutely erratic. I have clients tomorrow and Thursday, and I’m crossing my fingers they all show up. Looks like I have some pornography addiction, Borderline Personality Disorder, couples counseling, and adolescent trauma up ahead. Stoked.

Peace out friends. 

Embrace the Delicious Energy of Life

Seize the day; just don’t let the day seize you.

Dear Bee,

I was blessed to share this gorgeous afternoon with a close friend studying over lunch and coffee and then stumbling upon a random outdoor festival. And over dessert (yes, because in recovery, I can eat dessert without deprivation, overdoing, or remorse), we were talking about total acceptance and the willingness to truly believe that what’s meant to be will happen. I admire this girl. We met in school and became fast friends. We share the same free-spirited energy and positive spirit. 

 She’s currently in a limbo state regarding an old boyfriend who keeps reappearing into her life, and this is hard for her. Of course, it is. She doesn’t know what she wants to do. But, one thing that she said that struck me as beautiful was: I’m keeping my heart open. I’m always keeping my heart open. 

And this just made me realize, why do we close ourselves to opportunity? Why do we stunt our growth or sabotage our strength? We fear the change, of course. We fear the potential consequences. We want to protect ourselves? But, from what? Pain? Suffering? When it comes down to it, Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she famously quoted, nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. We dread this ambiguous unknown, because we grossly believe it will be much worse than whatever state of existence we are living in now. And so we put up walls; we play games with ourselves and others; we resort to deceit and lying; we use excuses; we try our best to stay “safe.” I can sum it up in a way that makes the sense to me: we fear losing control.

My friend cannot control whether she and her ex will rekindle. She cannot control the feelings he may or may not have for her. She cannot control if and when she either decides to either hold on or move on. She’s never had this control. Why do we believe it’s ours? We think we can outsmart life? Why do we exert so much exhaustive energy trying to manipulate, contort, and shape life into this predictable storyline with a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end?

I embrace the delicious energy of life. Life is indulgence. Life is nurturance. Life is a fabulous  ride if we are willing to let go of what comes up ahead. If we are willing to embrace the soul. If we are ready to accept whatever comes our way, knowing that breath can restore us to calmness, faith can bring us to lightness, and peace can bring us to happiness. 

Of all the changes I have made over the year, mindfulness has been the most important one. Mindfulness, for what it does to my energy. Mindfulness, for what it does to my emotions. Mindfulness, for what it does to the interactions I share. Mindfulness drives the naturalistic personality of a child. As the ego takes over with its dictating logic and alleged common sense, we lose the ability to relish the present. It is a conscious choice to take that moment back. It is a habit that must be practiced. It is a desire that must be wanted.

 

My first OA speak!!

Dear Bee,

Allowing myself to immerse myself in gratitude is arguably the greatest feeling in the world. 

I spoke for twenty minutes at a meeting today. Twenty, solid minutes. Without any preparation. Disclaimer: I’m not a natural public speaker whatsoever. I don’t mind doing presentations or talking out loud, but an impromptu share about the deepest, most shameful struggle I’ve ever faced? In front of a room full of strangers (I only knew four people; it was a meeting I had not been to before).

I never would have imagined

 I brought my notebook with the intent to read my writings, including some memorable snippets captured in these letters, but I only spent just a few minutes at the end actually looking at the notes. The rest was just candid expression of my story; a collection of my authentic emotions and collective experiences. I still can’t believe I was able to speak that long. Sometimes, when I share at meetings, the three-minute mark feels like a lifetime. Half the time, I never feel like my words even make sense. Tonight, time just flew. Thank you universe for taking of me and putting those words right in my mouth 🙂

The love and warmth I felt tonight felt so intoxicating. That’s the best word, I suppose, to describe how good it felt. 

While I don’t remember the specific contents of my share, I know I was smiling for much of the time. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had and the breakthroughs I have achieved. I attribute so much of my growth to the Twelve Steps and the Fellowship. OA isn’t for everyone, and I do not know whether it is my true “home,” and I certainly do not follow all the principles, but there is something so powerful about sitting among likeminded individuals. It makes my Bee feel so much smaller. Less unique. Less abnormal. In those rooms, I never feel alone. They know me, and I know them…even if we don’t know each other’s last names.

My recovery is a beautiful journey, and the deeper I immerse myself in it, the more blessings I receive and the more richly I enjoy my life. Where I once lived in a dark fog, in a hopeless tunnel of sorts, I now shine. No, I fucking sparkle. 

And is it perfect? No way. Screw perfection.

Is it easy? Nope. Hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But worth it? Yes. Yes. Yes. I could write down a thousand more reasons right now why it’s worth it, but these letters are FULL of them.

Today, it’s worth it, because I still have the goofiest grin on my face as I write this down right now. Today, recovery is worth it because feeling good is worth it. 

I am a beautiful child of the universe, and recovery enables me to be childlike again. Simplistic, carefree, intuitive, and happy. I am relearning my likes and dislikes, my goals and passions, my thoughts and feelings. I am listening to my body and honoring it. 

I’m living “as if” now, and the fear of succeeding and breaking through the clutches of this disease no longer terrifies me. Why? Because the other side is that much better. Because the freedom and liberation I am experiencing right now, in this very moment, is better than any food or body size. I don’t want to binge. Or restrict. Or overexercise. Or gain or lose weight. None of the feelings that stem from any of those behaviors come remotely close to the positive feelings I am experiencing right now.

I know eating disorders fluctuate. I know feelings change and pass. I know that my recovery will face transitions and obstacles and an endless array of tests. I am neither ignorant or conceited. I do not believe that I am immune to slipping, mistakes, or even relapse. I do not think I have all the answers nor do I believe that every moment will feel like right now. 

But right now, the fear of any of that happening has left me. If this confidence passes, it passes. If I feel sad tomorrow, I feel sad tomorrow. If I have a relapse in five years, I will handle it then. I don’t have any control over my future in this present moment. So, for this moment, I think I’ll just be 🙂

What a beautiful miracle. 

4am, and I’m wide awake

Dear Bee,

It’s 4am, and my thoughts are racing. I feel wide awake, and I have spent the past few hours tossing and turning. Sleep usually isn’t a problem for me. I tend to pass out just minutes after hitting the pillow, but I’m assuming that the huge coffee I devoured at 7pm has been keeping me restless and jittery. 

I am feeling anxious right now. Anxious, because I’m going out of town tomorrow for the weekend, and I have so much to do before then, and I’m nervous it won’t get all done. I don’t know why I have these negative thoughts, especially when I know that it will get done. My Type-A persona will make sure of that.

I am going to Vegas (again) this weekend to celebrate the beginning of summer and my birthday. I am really excited, and I want to hold onto that feeling. Earlier this week, I was experiencing some doubt, namely because I felt so insecure in my body. I am traveling with a gorgeous group of friends. And I’m not just saying that because they are my friends. They are seriously beautiful. And most of them are tiny! I know that I am either going to be in a bikini or a club dress the majority of the time I”m out there, and so, I just have to be accepting of my body for the beautiful and unique one that it is. Easier said than done, sure, but I also know that if I go in with a positive mindset, my subsequent reality will be positive as well. 

I have a therapy session this afternoon too, and I feel anxious about that as well. I have so much to discuss right now, but occasionally when that happens, the content goes in a completely different direction that I intended. Obviously, we can’t focus on everything. Sometimes, I just believe I have hours worth of content squeezed into those sixty minutes, and I feel deprived that I don’t get to explore all of it. But, I know that I’m going to feel much better afterwards. I  think I’m going to stay in therapy long-term, as I consider it a significant investment towards bettering my mental health and overall well-being. I consider it part of my self-care package. Besides, when I start working with clients, I will probably find myself needing it.

4:19am. Feeling somewhat tired, but my mind is still racing. I’ve already practiced deep breathing, counting sheep, and masturbating (TMI, too bad?), but to no avail. 

it’s okay. I am still riding off my gratitude high from earlier. I feel so blessed for all that I have gained this year. Compared to my last birthday, I am a completely different person. My mindset, my goals, my way of thinking towards myself, others, and the world around me. I have encountered difficult pain, but i have grown. I have hurt, but I have preserved. I have taken insane risks, but I have learned how to accept and embrace the changes. 

I often become caught up in the futuristic, end-point destination and dismiss the day-by-day progress and the tiny breakthrough moments. I seek instant results. I want absolute freedom from my eating disorder. I become impatient with the tedious process of taking it one meal, one day, one choice at a time. Knowing I may have to do something for life overwhelms me. And, when I slip, I feel like it’s impossible. Like I’m never going to get better. Like I’m making no progress. All of that is false, and I know that. My attitude, behaviors, and thoughts about my eating disorder are changing on a daily basis.

As stated in a previous post, my wish for myself is to cherish and live in the present moment. To acquire mindfulness. To counteract my ego and just ride on the tidal wave that is life. 

For today, I am going to give myself the gift of enjoying each breath and moment in time for what it is: an irreplaceable, once-in-a-lifetime one. 

May I Cherish and Live in the Present Moment

Dear Bee,

Yesterday, in one of my classes, we went around the room and expressed one wish we had for ourselves. May I cherish and live in the present moment. That was mine. This has always been a struggle for me, long before I developed an eating disorder. I grew up believing that we were always working towards something greater and that delayed gratification generated better future results. People who lived in the moment were impulsive and poor planners. They clearly didn’t know how to think in advance. 

Now, I know that my thinking was absolutely narrow-minded and somewhat detrimental. There is nothing inherently wrong with planning ahead, but when you are so occupied with the gifts of tomorrow, you never actually enjoy the life you have today. And so, that’s a goal I am going to work on. And because abstract goals rarely get achieved, here are a few ways I intend to work on it: Stimulate more mindfulness throughout the day, especially during those “mundane” activities, such as walking, getting ready, cleaning. Practice eating without distractions. Spend as much time as I can outside, as this naturally boosts my soul. Leave bigger gaps in my schedule to fill up with whatever I like, rather than micromanage every moment of my time. Oh, and use less technology of all sorts. 

So, we’ll see how it goes this summer in experimenting with this. 

Last night, a woman from an OA called me while I was wrapping up classes. Except for my sponsor and a few supportive texts from others, nobody has ever actually called me. When my class was over, I called her back. For those in the dark, OA thrives on its fellowship, in that members reach out to one another via phone, email, etc. during times of need. You are encouraged to contact people “before you take that first compulsive bite.” I’ve obviously lagged in this department, as I never call anyone on those phone lists!

This woman was in somewhat of a crisis-mode, and she just needed to talk. And I talked to her. For about twenty minutes. To protect her anonymity, I won’t go into the specifics, but by the time we got off the phone, she was settled down and emotionally stable. And I was listening to my own words, my own sound advice and genuine empathy, and wondering why I could not apply the same kindness and gentleness to myself. Such hypocrites we often are. We are so willing to forgive others for their mistakes and overlook their flaws, and yet, we allow our mistakes and flaws essentially to define us! 

While I was on the phone with her, I saw a shooting star. A shooting star in California?! I’ve only seen about three or four in my life. Thank you for that sign. 

I’m going to a meeting in about an hour. And since it’s sunny, I’ll be spending the bulk of my day outdoors. I’ll also be shopping and having lunch with one of my best friends. I’ll try to make a yoga or pilates class later. And I’ll also be studying for my last final of the year.

Good vibes. 🙂