Intuitition vs. Compulsion

Compulsion

The force of needing to do something rather than wanting to do something.

 
I struggle with compulsion. I

It’s not just an eating disorder- although that would be an easy diagnosis to wrap up in a pretty little box.

It’s a mentality- a constant belief that I can fill certain voids with inappropriate measures-it’s beyond desire, it morphs into necessity.
It’s a choke-hold restraint of control over the things I will never, ever be able to control.

 
I don’t want to live this way
I don’t want to have to live needing anything tangible
I want to live for experience and spontaneity. I want my intuition to guide me- I trust that, but I ignore its pleading voice. Intuition, for me, is synonymous with higher power. It is the good energy of the universe, the karma of the spiritual world, leading me in the right direction. And so often, I ignore that very clear insight. So often, I run in the opposite direction. It scares me to let go. To trust that things will, as they tend to do, fall into place. They will. I know they will.
And yet, I flirt with control.
 
My compulsion emerges in subtle ways-
From the coffee I think I “need” to drink to the work I think I “need” to do to the exercise I think I “need” to achieve to the “lists” I think I need to cross off to the gum I think I “need” to chew to the food I think I “need” to eat to the people I think I “need” to please to the therapy I think I “need” to perform to the expectations I think I “need” to meet.
My compulsion drives me to calculate, to predict, to meticulously plan. Basically, it drives me to a life that rides me.
What I am realizing is this: compulsion cannot healthily coexist with intuition. They contradict each other. Intuition makes me an active participant in life; compulsion makes me a passive rider. Compulsion throws me around and makes me a victim. Compulsion strips me of free will by convincing me I need to do what I can to take control…of something that doesn’t really need to be controlled, of something larger than me, of something that is a distorted need or want in my life.
 
I take solace that I am not alone.
I am among many others struggling the same fights
A fight against oneself, we discover, is more complex than fighting against anyone else.
 When there is only a party of one, who wins and who loses?
 
Death keeps happening in my life. Another relative. Another funeral. It hurts. God, it hurts. Why me? Why now? So many questions.  I cannot control these acts of nature as much as I want to believe I can. I can only feel. And I hate to feel. Because who wants to be in pain? But I’m letting myself do that. Compulsions cannot “cure” me, or protect me from experiencing the inevitable spectrum of emotions that come with BEING ALIVE AND HUMAN. I am used to believing that I need to punish myself for the “bad things” that happen to me. As if they are somehow my fault. As if I need to add a layer of suffering on top of suffering. As if my pain weren’t real.
 
We were talking about vices the other day. I still hang onto some of mine, but I guess I didn’t like to examine those. I consider them “less evil” than the ones I used to hold onto. I mean, they aren’t drugs. I’m not killing people for recreation. I’m not cutting or self-meditating myself with alcohol. I’m not engaging in the same destructive eating behaviors I used to.
 
But, still. Why? What’s keeping me attached to these compulsive needs. What drives me to the coffee cup, to the constant checking of online media, to the list-making and obsessive planning, and so on?
 
I read this affirmation this morning: Today I dare look within to see what is keeping me stuck. I know I cannot change unless I know what there is to change. I feel energized and empowered to move forward.
 
Fear keeps me stuck. Shame keeps me stuck. Anxiety keeps me stuck. But stuck is not feeling; stuck is a place. And I can get out of there. I know how. I know what I want to change. Intuition- not compulsion- is the answer. I am a beautiful and capable person- innately, I can trust that my heart and soul will lead me in the right directions. There are no rules. I can let go of rigidity. If it’s not making me happy – if it’s not filling the right the void– if it’s not something I genuinely WANT–I can let it go. I can let it go any damn time I want.
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I never thought I’d…

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I saw this project this afternoon, and, after feeling royally un-feminine, un-artsy, and un-creative (thanks gorgeous, perfect Pinterest world), it really struck a chord. I want to make a huge poster for myself with all the things I never thought I’d be able to do, experience, or feel. We so often focus on the opportunities we missed or the things we lack. Yet, very rarely do we step back to admire ourselves or reflect on the accomplishments we have made. 

This is sad!

Today, we were discussing depression in one of my supervision sessions, and my supervisor said, Depression happens when expectations mismatch reality. This resonates so much with me. Depression manifests itself in a world of “what-could-have-been” and “what-should-be.” Very rarely does the individual feel content with him or herself because a dark cloud of mistakes, flaws, and vulnerabilities looms over the overall forecast.

This mismatch also happens with eating disorder recovery. We experience that sense of painful failure when expectations mismatch reality, when we place too much emphasis on where we think we “should” be in our journeys, when we fail to recognize the uniqueness of our process, when we become too hard on ourselves. I know the majority of my slips in recovery occur when I feel like I am “not doing good enough.” I become impatient. I think, I shouldn’t be doing this or I’m stupid for thinking this way or why am I still acting like that? 

And admittedly, it can be tough to avoid the comparison trap, especially in a society that thrives off quick fixes, speedy recoveries, and essentially a non-relapsive mindset. No wonder we expect ourselves to be perfect. We watch the reality shows and read all the “success stories” and wonder why the same formulas cannot or do not work for us. Duh. They make eating disorder recovery look simple! Switch around some behaviors. Love your body. Practice being kind to yourself. And boom! Recovered! With a snap of the fingers.

Again, expectation versus reality. It is so important to learn how to distinguish the two, and, more importantly, recognize when one is surpassing or overshadowing the other.

In honor of Pinterest and positive affirmations and having pride in myself, I am going to complete this activity, and I welcome all of you to as well! Why not make yourself feel good? You deserve it.

I never thought I’d….

Find that one person who connects with me at every single level, makes me laugh so hard I cry, keeps up with me intellectually, spiritually, and mentally, and turns me on like nothing else. 

Stay this close to my brother.

Like country music. I totally do.  

Actually stay vegetarian after just deciding at 14 that I never wanted to eat meat again.

Run a half-marathon. 

Actually feel confident dancing.

Travel across the world without having a tangible plan.

Have a threesome. Yep. That once happened.

Outgrow the high school mentality. Thank GOODNESS. 

Be proposed to at nineteen years old. That was tragic.

Graduate college just days after turning twenty-one.

Play a confederate in a research lab.

Learn how to cook.

Enjoy yoga. 

Work with the special-needs population.

Learn how to skateboard. 

Swim with sea turtles.

Float in the Dead Sea.

See a bear in my own campsite.

Be able to type as fast as I can…remember how hard it was when you first learned???

Develop an eating disorder.

Go to therapy.

Write a screenplay…nothing really happened, but it was cool nonetheless.

Appreciate my parents as much as I do now.

Outgrow make-believe and my invisible friends. I still miss that.

Become frugal or cheap. Totally, totally am. 

Drink coffee. HA. 

Enjoy non-fiction books.

Want children. 

Believe I was beautiful.

Lose some of my first friends….that’ s just life.

Like beer.

Be kinky. Yeah. I am. I like that shit rough.

Always feel cold. I DON’T REMEMBER THIS AT ALL AS A CHILD.

Pass geometry in ninth grade.

Have a lead in a school play. What’s up, eighth grade?

Volunteer to do homeless outreach.

Learn how to print film photography in a darkroom.

Figure out how to like my hair. I LOVE MY HAIR NOW. 

Enjoy hiking as much as I do.

Become an adult….maybe 🙂 

 

BIRTHDAY GIRL<3

Tomorrow’s my birthday! ❤

I am so grateful for a year spent learning, loving, and growing. For a year of incredible changes, intensive risks, and wonderful opportunity. For a year of beautiful friendships, new experiences, and the slow, but satisfying, process of self-acceptance and love.

I started recovery from my eating disorder this year. And with that, I started recovery from self-induced punishment, insecurity, and fear. I started recovery from toxic relationships and negative self-talk. I started recovery from black-and-white thinking, chronic anxiety, and perfectionism. I started recovery from my love affair with control.

A recap of some of the best lessons I learned this year:  

I do not have to stay in a relationship just because it feels comfortable and familiar. 

I need to spend time with people who ADD to my life and well-being, rather than those who SUBTRACT from it. 

Self-care does not need to be justified or guilt-inducing. It really is nonnegotiable. 

Happiness is internal, and, like any other skill, it needs to be practiced and channeled regularly. 

Thoughts are subjective; feelings are objective.

I really was not proving anyone anything by working two jobs averaging 45+ hours a week and going to graduate school full-time.

Individuals with special needs make incredible teachers. 

Shame is just the glue connecting experiences with guilt and fear. 

Assertiveness in the workplace makes all the difference. 

Where I once thought strength only existed in holding on, I now realize it exists in letting go.

Taking commitments one day at a time is much easier than signing onto a “forever” commitment. 

Beer can actually taste good. Even great.

There is a difference between existing and living and a difference between doing and being.

When people vent, they tend to want support and empathy, rather than advice or suggestions to “fix it.”

Emotions are real and deserve to be validated, accepted, and embraced.

I can go out with friends and act shameless one night and curl up with a good book the next. Following my intuition and honoring what I want to do is simply the key. 

Sucking it up and buying a Macbook and iPhone was worth it. 

Becoming a therapist has morphed from a mere career decision into a life calling. Every single day, my passion for this field grows.

Spirituality is a beautiful and worthwhile presence.

At the end of the day, the only person responsible for being my best friend is MYSELF.

Blogging can be its own mode of therapy!

Gratitude keeps everything in perspective.