Skin deep

Ever feel like you have no idea what you’re doing?

My beauty regimen for the last seven years, at best, has been perfunctory but lazy. I haven’t bought nice things, even though my husband begs me to. I purchase the cheapest makeup because truly, I. have. no. idea. what. I’m. doing. My nails when manicured and with a full-set are awesome and I feel fashionable and sexy, but I do that once every blue moon. I don’t like to take my socks off because I’m afraid my husband will see the lack of pedicure and judge my half chipped away nail polish on my toes. He doesn’t judge me, but I do. Then again, I haven’t cared to purchase new socks either, so you’ll see a tiny toe peeking out every now and then.

When we moved, I really took stock of what I own in the way of taking care of myself and how I dress myself….mirror crying and it is minimal at best. I don’t feel attractive, therefore, I haven’t wanted to spend money on myself for nice things because I have this idea in my mind that one day I’ll get back to the size I was naturally. These extra pounds will be gone, my hair will shine instead of being frizzy and when I look in the mirror, I won’t cry.

I don’t know that I can keep waiting for that day though, for a couple of reasons – one is my husand, he deserves the best I can be. Another is that if I don’t love who I am today, will the person I’m hoping to be ever come to fruition?

That leaves me with this, I still don’t know what I’m doing. It’s amazing to me that women around the world know how to donoidea2 their hair and makeup to be stunningly beautiful and here I am with a glass of wine on the counter, a curler in one hand and mascara in the other wondering what I am doing wrong.

One of my best friends is a makeup consultant/stylist/Professional, seriously, with a capital P. When she taught me how to do my eyebrows it didn’t just change my face, it changed my world – that seems silly but it’s true. The shape of our eyebrows can dynamically change how we look and I was just letting mine do their own thing there – like Sasquatch.

I struggle with wanting my makeup and hair to look magnificent rather than as if I were a model for the Derelicte line from Zoolander, but that is just skin deep. There is more to this than floundering in the land of Sephora and Ulta, it’s clothes, it’s my weight and for the last year it has just felt overwhelming as I tried, really tried, to lose the depression weight but it just wouldn’t budge. When the pudge won’t budge … amiright?

In my family, my siblings and I are all pretty close and we talk openly about most things, but one thing that I’ve only taken notice of recently is that two siblings in particular, actually, they are the only fit ones… they talk to me about my weight, a lot. I know that their intentions are good, they know that I miss being slender and that I’m unhappy with my weight. It just seems that it is always being brought up and alternatives to my diet, or new fad diets are being mentioned. I hate fad diets.

I am a vegetarian and I do love the Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead method of juicing vegetables. I want to yell it to the world that I don’t eat BADLY .. I’ve just been through a whole hell of a lot and apparently my body decided it should pack on pounds in order to protect itself. Can a scientist or expert in some area vouch for this? Depression weight is not like over-eating weight. It’s stubborn and it’s vindictive. It taunts you in the mirror and getting rid of it feels like moving mountains.

Always afraid of failing, I observed and never did. Watching someone else do something well isn’t the same as trying and learning yourself.

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Insomnia

I can’t sleep. Again. It seems like this is a constant.

My husband and I have a night time “routine”, if you will. We snuggle, he falls asleep, we flip over to the other side and my tossing and turning begins.

I’ve tried countless things to lull myself to sleep. Counting sheep, counting to 100, meditating (difficult when the sweet man beside you snores..), thought movement (the imaginative process of putting stresses into bins to organize and remove jumbled thoughts), etc. etc. I’ve tried tapes to listen to, rushing shores, jungle, rain, all of that makes me have to use the bathroom, inducing more stress on top of not being able to sleep. Melatonin, natural remedies, sleepy time tea, xanax, alcohol. Sigh. Why. Am. I. Awake.

I know that a part of me doesn’t want to fall asleep because of the nightmares I have. Sometimes in my dreams I relive things from my past and I wake up terrified and screaming. Other times the nightmares can be something worse than what I’ve been through.

There is something else to this though. As I was laying in bed tonight I listened to my body, I cleared my mind and focused on what my body was feeling and what became apparent has startled me to an even more conscious state at…. 1:08 am.

I have a hard time breathing. My lungs feel like they are shaking and each breath is small. Taking a deep breath hurts.

My stomach an inner organs feel like they are quivering in fear, which is a sensation I usually only get during a panic attack.

My face has areas that feel like they are throbbing and swelling.

My neck feels like someone has it in a vice and it just will not relax.

My heart hurts, the racing, the panic, the dread, the hope, the pain, excitement…. it feels so tired.

I know this part of the cycle is what can make the next day harder. Good sleep, any sleep, is so very important to our health and state of mind. I just can’t fall asleep.

 

I need to get to know you

It’s been a while. I stopped writing because I felt like I was feeding anger instead of moving forward with hope and I needed to get my head straight on that point.

The husband and I moved to a new apartment, it’s newer, spacious, and peaceful. I’ve been running myself ragged the last two weeks for this move and trying to do more than I think my body could undertake. I started having massive panic attacks again this last week and yesterday I couldn’t get my heart to steady after one panic attack in the morning. I spent the whole day trying to breathe but labored with each breath, I could feel my lungs aching from the strain.

Because panic attacks are what they are, I of course think that I must be dying. This sounds like it’s funny, but it isn’t. It’s terrifying. This impending sense of dread and death is a stealthy stalker and when you’re having a panic attack, it can be crippling.

Before we went to bed last night, I told my husband what I was feeling and he did his utmost to comfort me and assuage my fears. As he rubbed my back in this steady motion that he’s learned calms me, I wondered how he knows just what to do.  It was at that moment that I realized how I am literally uncomfortable with myself. I wrote myself a quick email last night detailing all that I am uncomfortable with, like my appearance, my smile, the way I talk, the way I walk… the list was endless.

I went to sleep, trying to relax and breathe, thinking to myself and telling myself “I need to get to know you.” I need to listen to my body and take care of it, not hate it for what happened. I need to look at my face in the mirror and not imagine the bruises that aren’t there anymore. I need to let myself start to feel happy again without guilt. Neither my body or my mind has relaxed in the last seven years and in the last six months I’ve known that this needs to change, I can’t live like this anymore.

I have this recurring dream where I see myself, barely in my 20’s and the shower can’t clean enough off. I’m mute, paralyzed, and scared. There’s a party going on outside the bathroom and I just see the dirt trails going down the drain. Every time I have this dream I feel like fighting. Fighting for life, fighting for myself, fighting for happiness, fighting for this to end. All of it.

I need to get to know myself again.

The incredible shrinking woman

Ever wish you could hit a refresh button and start anew? I do. All the time.

Sometimes in therapy, we do a little exercise where I think back to a trauma and imagine myself now, standing there, watching it – what do I know now as an adult that i didn’t know then. Truth be told, most of the time with this exercise, I mostly want to bitch slap my abusers, kick them in the junk, and take the child that I was away to safety. There are no words. Just bitch slap, kick in the junk, and walk away.

I watched the movie The General’s Daughter the other night and when she recreates the scene of what happened to her and screams, Look at me! This happened to me! This did happen!  I completely understood why she would do it.

“You need to get over it.”

When people that I consider friends and my extended family say “You need to get over it.” I struggle to breathe.

I don’t disagree in this idea of getting over it, I would love to get over it, but when the perpetrators did not, will not, and won’t ever admit what they did or that it did happen – I am the one left standing degraded and traduced.

One fateful summer was the first time I ever experienced cruelty, deception, and some slight physical abuse, and it was almost 20 years ago at the hand of my grandmother, cousin (female), and aunt. With the little exercise I mentioned earlier, I’ve come to a new understanding:

  • I know now that I don’t need to get out a soapbox and proclaim my innocence.

My parents believed me, my sisters believed me, my brothers believed me. My true character should withstand annihilation and defamation to those that know me. This pain I’ve carried, the need to somehow prove myself to be true to my accusers/abusers has no merit because they don’t want to know me for who I am, they don’t want to know me at all.

  • I don’t need them to love me, I don’t need their approval.

Why, why, would I want their love? Why would I want their approval? I was a happy, enthusiastic, eager-to-please child when my grandmother accused me of being a liar, a thief, and told me that I was ugly and worthless. I have no need for the love and approval of someone who would treat a child as she treated my mother and myself.

  • When I see what happened through the eyes of an adult, I can honestly say that I wholly disapprove of the actions of my grandmother, aunts, and uncles.

There was no love, no apology, only silence when it was found that the accusations against me were false. Denial of the entirety occurring has been the mantra for my grandmother, aunt, and cousin. There were other aunts and uncles around, they saw what was happening and they did nothing to stop it. In fact, they took my sister 75 miles away from me and left me alone with the grandmother and the cousin.

That summer, what happened in it, has haunted me and made me conscious of my every move in life and in my career. It changed the course my life was set on because I felt I always had to have witnesses, proof that can hold up to support me.

What I know is true today is that I had support, I just didn’t know to reach for it. When I told my parents the truth, they believed me. My brothers and sisters stood beside me, believing me, supporting me.

I used to want to write a letter to my grandmother and aunt, asking for an answer as to how they could have treated a child like they did, but I know it is worthless.

I used to close my eyes really tightly, practically clicking my heels together like Dorothy and wish that I could wipe my slate clean, clear my name, rebuild my character… but that is where I went wrong. I held onto wanting to change my past so badly that my present and future suffered for it for the last 20 years.

I can no longer stay quiet in this world, I have a voice and I feel it reverberate off my internal walls, making its slow climb upward until its melody can be heard all around.

Elin Stebbins Waldal

When I revisit the trauma, as I mentioned earlier, I can see the whole scene playing out, but as an adult, I see my father, I see my mother, I see my husband, I see my brothers, I see my sisters, and I see the overwhelming wealth of love and support that I had, still have, and will always have from them. That love and support, far outweighs the cruelty that my grandmother, aunt, and cousin inflicted. It’s well past time to refocus the lens I’ve been looking through.

I will not be the incredible shrinking woman anymore.

Stronger

Oh, and Grandma, get bent.

Sigh.

Short and quick. Today is rough.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you, what you are about and what you value. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

A changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value. I feel a little shell shocked thinking about this.

I really lost who I was/am through a series of bad relationships.

What am I about? I know I used to be about being happy, doing something, moving along in life, going somewhere, having goals for my career… but I’ve lost that too.

I threw my values away because I couldn’t stay in an abusive relationship if I kept them. If I had valued myself even, I could not have stayed, but for whatever reason I traded my values of caring.. compassion… dedication… devotion… honesty… hope… integrity… optimism… respect… unity… and love for a man who valued only himself. The default of giving up your core values for a person who won’t share them, is that the only thing left to value is that person and if their core values are me, myself, and I, there isn’t any room for you.

So, who the hell am I?

We need to think of ourselves as gifts to be given and to think of others as gifts offered to us. – John Powell

My twinsie and I both have a problem of considering ourselves a burden. It happened because of emotionally destructive people in our lives, as in, the man I dated, and the man she married. If we take these two destructive people out of the picture and focus instead on say, the family we know, we would see ourselves as loved, precious, and in no way a burden, but a blessing.

I try to focus on that in therapy and I’m getting a lot closer, but once someone has made you feel and enforced in your mind that you are a burden, it is a 25′ grave that you are struggling to get out of, if you struggle at all.

Today is hard. It is worse to watch someone you love be disrespected and disappear in front of you from the constant haranguing of the emotionally destructive spouse than to be the one it happens to.

It is like screaming to an empty room.

Why can’t they see it?

Why couldn’t I see it when I was in it?

A tenuous grip on truth

I felt like I was in control of my life yesterday, that is the first time that has happened in over seven years. I was so elated that I considered popping open a bottle of champagne, but the Seahawks were playing the Saints, and that is really more of a beer drinking event. I feel overwhelmed today with joy that I was motivated without having to force it, what I wanted to do – I did, without any self-talk or self-deprecation. I’m going to chalk that up as a point in my favor.

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I was just talking about trust with the husband a few weeks ago. He asked me to answer a question for him, it was: When women are dating, in a relationship with a man, do they ever ask themselves – “Can I trust him?”
I had to think about it for a minute and realized that I had never once asked myself that about the men I dated and moved into relationships with. I always knew that there were things that I could not trust about them though. “A relationship without trust is like a car without gas, you can stay in it as long as you want but it won’t go anywhere.” I have no idea who said that, but it is true.
The simplicity in answering this truthfully is key, do you trust him? I know in my past relationships that I never did trust them, if they lie often it is a pattern and from what I know to be true for destructive personalities, it is because they are selfish and don’t want to face the consequences of their actions. There isn’t a healthy way to live with a liar because the pattern of deception corrodes a relationship. While that is happening in one corner, the other corner is us, trying to force ourselves to believe the lies. When we force ourselves to believe lies, even though our gut tells us it isn’t true, it steals our confidence in what is reality. It steals our trust in our own instincts little by little. Then, we are left in that relationship-car that won’t go anywhere, feeling insecure and insane, when in truth, we were right, it was a lie.
After my husband asked that question I thought about how simple a decision factor in relationships that would be. Don’t trust him/her? Don’t date him/her. Don’t trust him/her? Don’t believe him/her.

Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three – Ziad K. Abdelnour

Practically Single

It’s been wholly uneventful this last week as both the husband and I were sick. So I really have nothing to blather on about.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

My husband tells me this all.the.time. I tend to devote my schedule to things that are just busy work instead of devoting time to things that would make me successful as a writer and healthy as a person. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s like housework, there is always something that I could be doing to maintain our house, to keep it clean, clutter-free, but I could, and have, lost days, weeks, and months to that activity and it resulted in not spending time writing, working out, and I was left feeling like I hadn’t gotten any further in life.

This quote also translates to bad relationships, those are very much the wrong wall that the ladder is leaning against. There is no ultimate goal in working your ass off for a bad relationship, but we keep doing it, why? For one thing, if you’re in a relationship with someone that has a destructive personality, is narcissistic, abusive, or is simply not into you – all of what you do to try and make it a success is just a way of not focusing on the truth of the matter.

And the truth of the matter is that the relationship is:

A. Simply a bad relationship.

B. An abusive relationship.

C. A Narcissistic relationship. Which is a one-sided relationship where you meet all of their needs and they meet none of yours.

I call all of the above on my last relationship and definitely on the one my twinsie is in. Where a narcissistic personality is combined with tendencies to be emotionally destructive, you are left feeling like everything is your fault, so you try harder. The truth lies in the fact that when your significant other is consistently indifferent to your needs, and instead focuses on themselves, they neglect you. When they neglect you, what they are absolutely saying is ….

I really don’t care about you and you don’t mean enough to me that I will spend my time on what you want, or what you would like to do.

They also won’t want to spend money on things that you want or like. Birthdays? Mother’s Day? Christmas? The least expensive of gifts, if any, and the least amount of effort on their part. If kids are involved you probably feel like you cannot depend on your significant other, being with the children is a chore for them and you are left holding the bag, carrying the weight, and truthfully, you are what I like to call “practically single.”

I know this well, I went through it myself and I see my twinsie going through it now. With the help of my therapist I learned that even with years and years of therapy that there are just people who will not change to care about you. So strong is their conviction that their needs, their wants, their life is not meant to be shared, but to be focused on themselves and them only. Sure they’ll say they want to change, they will apologize for neglecting you and they seem sincere, but it will happen again, and again, and again. The day that you stop listening to their words and start watching their actions, that is the day that you see the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

Strange isn’t it, each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? – Clarence the Angel “It’s a wonderful life”

I think that this is true in two opposite ways. The good versus the bad.

1. The good man’s life touches so many other lives positively. Like my Dad, he loved life and the people in it intensely and they loved him back. When he passed away, thanks to Facebook, people from all his journey’s in life, all around the world felt a hole, mourned, and missed him.

2. The bad man’s life touches people so negatively that even after he has walked out the door, left the relationship, or even passed away, the hole that is left is painful, not poignant. The hole that a bad person leaves is like an open wound, jagged around the edges, inflamed, and still bleeding.

The future never just happened. It was created. – Will and Ariel Durant – To Your Success

You cannot take charge of the present if you are busy reliving the setbacks of the past. – Newman & Berkowitz – To Your Success

I struggled with leaving a bad relationship because I was busy focusing on and regretting the decision to be in it in the first place. I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to leave because I had worked so hard to make it work. If I had not fastened my bootstraps and climbed onto my horse of freedom :it was actually a Chevy Tahoe:: I might still be with someone who would never care about me more than himself, who would continue to cheat on me, neglect me, and abuse me. So forget what bad decisions we’ve made, everyone makes them at some time or another, there shouldn’t be any shame in it, there should be freedom.

Live it