unexpected lessons from love songs

I feel like I’m some kind of Frankenstein
Waiting for a shock to bring me back to life
But I don’t want to spend my time
Waiting for lightning to strike

One of my most vivid childhood memories is that of a staging of Sleeping Beauty we did back in kindergarten. Or not so much the play itself as our teacher handing out the parts. I remember how before she could utter the word “princess,” all the girls en masse started clamoring for the role. Their reaction was so instantaneous, it almost seemed conditioned, based however on conditioning that i myself had not gone through. For the life of me I just couldn’t understand what was so appealing about playing dead for the vast majority of the story — which was for the best, because I couldn’t get the part if I wanted to: my reaction time was just nowhere near fast enough.

With my loud, resonant voice, I was the obvious choice for the narrator, and i thought that that would be it. Instead, i ended up playing two parts in that performance. The second one was something I volunteered for, not without amusement, when no other girl would: Maleficent. Far from the beauty that is Angelina Jolie, in our rendition of the fairy tale she was going to be a warty old hag — a fact I was fully conscious of as I found myself raising my hand in baffled excitement.

I don’t think it’s overstating the significance of that decision (which was one that happened to me more than one I made for myself) when I say it was a sign of some underlying truth about me, and completely consistent with my thoughts on the whole business of being a princess. It wouldn’t have felt right; especially when so many other girls felt they deserved to be the pretty one. When indeed they were the pretty ones.

The most confusing thing about this memory is that at the time, I found the choice so natural — an identity I stumbled upon that seemed custom-made just for me. Not once did I question whether I should take up the challenge — probably because it wasn’t one — i just went with my gut.

I don’t know what happened after that to make me believe that a sort of Maleficent (or narrator, for that matter) wasn’t a valid thing to be. But I do know that I’ve experienced a mismatch between what I thought I should be, and what deep down I knew I really was.

Why would a person who so desperately craves intimacy reject everyone who ever attempted to pursue her? Why would she take pleasure in knowing, but keeping to herself, that she didn’t feel anything towards the boys who adored her for her (formerly) pretty face? And why, rather than elation, would she feel a certain kind of contempt for those of her crushes that decided to give her the time of day?

“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves,” he [Semrad] would say, urging us to be honest with ourselves about every facet of our experience.

Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Why would I harbor platonic/romantic feelings towards pretty but totally unavailable strangers, and refuse to let go of my unrealistic idea of love gleaned from crappy popular culture — even though my own 6 y.o. self had known better than that? There was a wisdom in my actions then that it’s hard to replicate unless you believe in yourself.

This whole story may seem trivial, banal even. But i’d venture that love and the various ways we go about finding it are actually pretty important aspects of being alive. But because my awkward, self-conscious nature didn’t align with the princess narrative, I decided to forgo romance altogether.

I could have found alternative scripts if i really wanted to. I think the only reason I clung to the princess archetype was because it was so incompatible with my needs or capacities: I’ve always been good at coming up with new ways of hating previously unexplored dimensions of my self.

People tend to exclude themselves from every statistic, every generalization, every principle. But the truth is, i’m no exception…to any rule. I used to excuse my singleness with my appearance and personality: I claimed to simply be “unlovable.” Problem is, i don’t believe this particular label applies to anyone else, and I mean anyone. Every princess will find her prince (or princess, or some gender neutral blue blood or another) … if she wants to. If I wanted to, I would have found mine by now — even if it meant settling for less than my idealized notion of romantic love.

In point of fact, for all my whining about not being feminine …. I’m deeply uncomfortable with the very idea of being the object of somebody’s passionate love , a n y w a y . Always have been. Guess I’m just not a princess, after all. (Not that I wanna speak in absolutes; i’m open to what the future holds. I just have a hunch.)

Against my better judgment, I followed the pattern some two years back, and developed a crush on somebody I didn’t know. And then, a couple of days ago, I… broke the pattern by reaching out to him. To my astonishment, a friend commented that at least he isn’t afraid of assertive women, as I must have come across as pretty confident.

My motives weren’t clear to me at the time; the last thing I wanted was to pursue a relationship of any kind … but I reached out regardless. I think I mostly did it out of curiosity and boredom.

There’s this cute little song by jeremy messersmith called A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard (linked at the top of this post). The lyrics are simple enough, but I’ve always found them tragically romantic. Until today that is. When Lucy went all

I’m like a princess in a castle high
Waiting for a kiss to bring me back to life

I was like wHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU DUMB BITCH!? Damn right you shouldn’t “spend your time waiting for just another guy,” what are you gonna just sit there on your arse until he arrives and saves you from yourself??

And then I was like … but I’ve been playing a Lucy for most of my life … playing.

And suddenly that comment about secure women made a lot more sense to me. Not just in the context of romantic relationships; funnily enough, feelings that seemed overwhelming for so long suddenly lost all their power as soon as I acted on them. It’s not about that. It’s about everything else.

If I feel guilty about being lazy and entitled, I believe it’s because I know I could be spending my time in more productive ways; I just can’t figure out what’s preventing me from doing that. I simultaneously force myself to act like a child who needs to be taken care of, and get angry at myself for being so passive. But real life is not kindergarten, and you are not limited to reenacting one behavior pattern for all eternity.

One thing I can tell you is that it feels amazing to take charge, even when it’s for reasons you yourself don’t understand.

(image credit https://www.ecopetit.cat/ecvi/ixRJhmR_maleficent-movie-disney-sleeping-beauty-fantasy-cartoon-maleficent/)

some thoughts on “The Body Keeps the Score”

I don’t consider myself an avid reader, yet lately that’s all that I’ve been doing. What i’m about to say is in no way to shame others for doing things solely for enjoyment… but for whatever reason i personally have found myself frustrated, more than anything, any time i tried to play video games or watch TV. When I read, at least i feel like im learning something. and when i’m having “too” much fun, it starts feeling empty somehow.

it’s not necessarily that i feel some profound need to be productive. it’s more that whenever i did these things — scrolling through facebook, sometimes listening to music even — i had the sense that i wasn’t doing it for fun but merely as a distraction. to keep my mind off of whatever I was feeling at the moment. (Except as a result i ended up too distracted to focus on the distraction itself…)

Self-indulgence — such as overeating — is a coping skill first and foremost. So i guess it’s only logical that the less stressed out I am, the less I need it. But that’s not all.

I’m currently reading the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. In it he discusses the impact of trauma on your life. And although i don’t suffer from PTSD or anything like that, the book has resonated with me immensely. You don’t need to have experienced anything horrendous in your life order to benefit from all the insights it offers about people, our needs, and the way we process our emotions.

A lot of it also makes intuitive sense and kind of confirms certain things I have suspected for a while now (while backing it up with research).

The major thing that i personally can relate to is the disconnect between your body and mind when you find yourself unable to cope with something (I do not know why i personally struggle with this, but, as always, I have some theories). Basically “all trauma is preverbal” and unless you have a vocabulary to deal with it (and also address it in a way that activates specific brain regions associated with linguistic expression), it will manifest itself in physical ways.

The author provides many alternative methods that will bring the traumatic memories to conscious awareness where they can be faced head-on, arguing that conventional talk therapy is not enough to put those feelings behind you.

among others, he talks about mindfulness, and does so in a way that for me, a person who’s been playing with the idea for ageesss but could never muster the courage and/or self-discipline for it, finally makes it more appealing than scary. Or maybe it’s just that I’m ready now?

whichever it is, i’m becoming increasingly annoyed with my habit of just numbing out.

A few passages in particular have stayed with me:

[Many traumatized people] lose their sense of purpose and direction (…) How could they make decisions, or put any plan into action, if they couldn’t define what they wanted or, to be more precise, what the sensations in their bodies, the basis of all emotions, were trying to tell them?

Traumatized people are often afraid of feeling (…) [Many of them] are compulsive eaters and drinkers, fear making love, and avoid many social activities: Their sensory world is largely off limits.

Although widely understood to be harmful to health, each adaptation [such as smoking, drinking, drugs, obesity] is notably difficult to give up (…) [T]he presenting problem is often only the marker for the real problem, which lies buried in time, concealed by patient shame (…).

at the risk of coming off as tone-deaf, i will admit that i have noticed these patterns in myself. by no means am I trying to appropriate the term “trauma,” i think I’m just … oversensitive, and poorly equipped to deal with it.

Van der Kolk perfectly captures the feeling i had in therapy of being somehow removed from the experiences & feelings i was describing. Even while i was crying my heart out in the comfy chair, it still never felt like i was getting to the core of the feeling.

that was because my memories and sensations are so scattered and fragmentary that I cannot put them into a coherent sequence which I could integrate into a larger narrative. everything bad that happens to me feels like the end of the world

…that never ends but goes on, and on, and on.

PTSD is an extreme reaction to an extreme situation. but the strategies proposed in this book are not limited to such severe distress. they’re about cultivating self-awareness, which is the only way we can manage how we feel and behave.

Self-awareness was the very thing I had always lacked, and now you’re telling me I can develop it by simply practicing yoga? 🙂 …It’s not that I didn’t know it would help; everybody kept telling me so. But my body felt so foreign, and i was so reluctant to get in touch with it.

on a seemingly unrelated note, i had this massive realization a few days back … that obsessed as i am with it, I don’t actually care how stupid or intelligent I am. Or i do, but only to the extent that it influences other people’s perceptions of me. I have carried so much shame about being “dumb.” but only because i thought of it as a factor based on which other people would reject me.

mind you, i know this might be true most of the time.

but the rejections don’t hurt because i desperately need this particular person in my life. they hurt because every.single.person’s pronouncement on my negative qualities, I take as gospel. it doesn’t even have to be articulated in these terms; my boss laughing at me for being too straightforward with a customer does the trick, and bam! I’m depressed for the rest of the day.

Maybe i wouldnt feel as bad about myself if i didn’t assume everyone had all these expectations? or even if they do, it isn’t my job to meet those expectations. I never realized I could be happy and satisfied with what I was; that I could be comfortable in my skin just the way that I was. because i felt i was always being judged, my own feelings never seemed like enough, never mattered.

in other words, my body and mind were out of sync.

The book covers so many topics in such detail that i could never do it justice, but i highly recommend it, not only to survivors of trauma. everyone can take away something valuable and relevant to themselves from a really good book like that.

so much of life is just passing the time, just going through the motions. it is okay to be kind to yourself. I used to dismiss it as a waste of time. But … if enjoying yourself isn’t worth it, then … what is?

I’ve been doing some strange things lately, spontaneous things like somersaults in the meadow, which i could go into how that reconnected me with my body and my childlike sense of joy and all that, but it was just SO MUCH FUN. yesterday i went for a walk in the rain late in the evening; that felt amazing, too.

i think i used to discount physical ways of managing negative emotions because i thought they made me weak. i thought i should be able to rationalize my way out of sadness and anger, to self-regulate intellectually. But the truth is, feelings have a very real physical dimension. I mean, even in the most basic sense of neurotransmitters and stuff, they literally are physical.

of course ultimately i ended up distancing myself from what i felt with distractions that were very physical indeed.

luckily, turns out you can do very basic things with a sense of purpose.

never thought i would say this, but i think i need more stress in my life

im hella perfectionist for such a slacker.

or maybe it makes sense that i should slack when im such an impossible perfectionist.

whichever it is, it’s why i write as much as i do. in writing, i can live out all my impossible fantasies.

which is why ive been writing less. been busy actually living my imperfect life (imperfectly i might add).

therapy feels wrong because it seems like exactly the kind of thing someone like me should not be getting any more of: navel-gazing. i do that enough on my own.

writing has started to feel indulgent like that too. me, me, me. getting tired of that constant overthinking.

i realize that im only saying this because things are good rn. work is good. family’s good. weather’s wonderful. i actually have the attention span necessary to read something for once in my life.

(yes i’m low-maintenance.)

but it’s true though: i don’t need journaling to self-regulate because i have no negative emotions to regulate.

but it’s almost starting to feel ——

dare i say it ——

—— boring….?

all this routine is safe, yes, but it’s also so fucking boring.

Nonlinear progress

When a friend asked me why i temporarily quit therapy, I said I could write an entire blog post about it and it still wouldn’t be enough. But the short answer is that it wasn’t working.

I’m not saying it didn’t work; it has actually helped immensely. But i’ve reached a plateau of sorts.

it’s really hard to explain: i want to talk, i need to talk, but i don’t want to make it into this whole thing. All i do is talk, and I’m sick of it, and I kind of just clammed up and couldn’t think of anything else to say because i constantly felt put on the spot.

and also, taking the “in some way it still has an effect on you” argument to its logical conclusion, you could be in therapy all your life. which is fine if you’re the one paying for it, but i honestly feel that there are many people in more serious need of public mental health services than i am.

I had casually considered therapy for years, always seeing it as a theoretical last resort, and with no real intention of going. i ended up there because of a crisis — the first one that i couldn’t deal with on my own.

I’m painfully aware that the crises arise as a result of my problematic personality. thus i can say with relative certainty that the next one is just around the corner (always is). But. the one that brought me here is resolved. and once that happens, i lose all motivation to work on myself.

i know im flaky to quit as soon as i have to admit that there are things i could change about myself that might make me better. but that’s not the only reason i had to take a break.

Keeping in mind that i never seriously considered therapy as a valid option (because i didnt think my issues were “serious enough”), I have actually already accomplished much more than i thought i would: I realized that they are, in fact, pretty dang serious, and they warrant numerous therapy sessions, indefinite even.

But I’m not ready to do the work just yet. I’m still coming to terms with my flaws. Maybe i shouldnt even be calling them flaws. i’m just transitioning from assuming that everything about me is inherently awful and terrible … to just seeing my personality without judging it. and assessing which parts might help me along the way and which ones not so much.

I had never seen myself as malleable before. well, easily manipulated, yes, but only by others. I lacked the self-awareness to manage my own thoughts or actions based on how they affected my life. I had never asked myself questions like, why do i behave a certain way or why i don’t do certain things that might be good for me.

idk if it’s plain ol’ stupidity, or my victim mentality: i’m so pathologically passive that I cannot conceive of the possibility that i could act instead of only being acted upon. I had no agency whatsoever, so how could i hope to ever change?

but now i have a little bit of that basic sense of agency, and it’s a lot. i’m not used to that kind of responsibility, and i feel i need to practice on things in my life, where the stakes are lower, before I can experiment on myself. it’s like a muscle you didn’t know you had, and you have to start with really basic workouts to avoid injury.

There are many more reasons I left. One of them being that I enjoy making people pity me, and my therapist refused to do that. That is a lesson in and of itself.

Plus, I suspect that intellectual conversations about my feelings while I’m drugged out of my mind aren’t gonna help when I’m going through withdrawals. Stabilizing on psych meds was hell, and I don’t expect lowering my doses to be a walk in the park, either.

The only reason I haven’t spiraled into a deeper depression interspersed with panic attacks is that my higher cognitive functions are compromised. In other words, my brain is in power saving mode. I don’t care …. but I’m going to.

and it’s going to be tough. going back to my neurotic self. anxious and overemotional. angry that i wasted ten months in a daze when i could have been making progress towards genuine change.

of course that’s not what’s happening, either… the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, the meds make you docile and more accepting of your present circumstances that might otherwise seem unbearable. but I still want to change, even now. I just don’t have the motivation…

Note to self: you haven’t wasted ten months. You’ve gotten to know a different version of yourself, and it’s one you can learn from.

but you’ve gotta admit that it isn’t you, exactly… hence why i don’t feel particularly compelled to invest in its well-being, if that makes sense. That part is just fine. It’s when i finally have a clear head that I’m really going to need therapy.

It must sound strange when I’m compartmentalizing like that, but it’s true: there’s only so much you can achieve in terms of insight into your mental states when the states themselves are so inhibited.

It’s the “meta”-knowledge that i’ve gained — about how i process information, how i react to stimuli, etc. — acquired in the process of analyzing my past behaviors — that’s going to help me navigate therapy. I really don’t see how pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy can be used together, at the same time (even though i know they frequently are).

I can’t wait till i’m ready though.

confessions of a self-professed-semi-self-aware glutton

Skłonność do uzależnień jest cechą biologiczną, i nie wiem ile sensu ma przekładanie jej na doświadczenia emocjonalne. Ale pamiętam że już w bardzo wczesnym dzieciństwie — na długo przed tym jak zaczęłam przejmować się swoim wyglądem czy tym bardziej zdrowiem — miałam problem z jedzeniem i odczuwałam z tego powodu wstyd i poczucie winy.

Cóż, koniec końców nasze emocje wynikają z naszej biologii: musiałam przeczuwać, że mam jakiś “deficyt” (słabą kontrolę impulsów itp.), i znajdowało to swoje odzwierciedlenie w moich zachowaniach w realnym świecie. Innymi słowy źle się czułam ze swoją fizyczną formą, i próbowałam zrekompensować to sobie i uregulować tę n i e a d e k w a t n o ś ć od zewnątrz.

To logiczne że wszystkich nas ciągnie do tego, co zdaje się zaspokajać jakieś nasze potrzeby, niektóre mniej podniosłe niż inne. Ale poszczególne działania mówią o nas więcej niż wskazywałaby na to ich pozorna prostota, i dwie zupełnie różne rzeczy mogą sobą reprezentować to samo; mogą pełnić tę samą funkcję.

Wiem że widać po mnie, że lubię zjeść. Nie wiem natomiast czy, oceniając mnie po samym wyglądzie, ktoś byłby w stanie stwierdzić jak PORYPANA jest moja relacja z jedzeniem. Wydaje mi się że niejedna osoba grubsza ode mnie ma do sprawy zdrowsze podejście, pozbawione całego tego poczucia winy, braku samokontroli, i obrzydzenia do samej siebie.

Niektórzy z Was pewnie słusznie zauważą, że nazywanie przejadania się uzależnieniem to hiperbolizacja, granicząca wręcz z obraźliwą dla ludzi zmagających się z “prawdziwymi” uzależnieniami. Przecież mogłabym po prostu “mniej żreć”. No, wiem że bym mogła, kiedyś nawet spróbowałam, i wyszło średnio.

Uzależnienie to jeden z moich skrótów myślowych.

Pamiętam więcej sytuacji niż mogłabym zliczyć, które potoczyły się według podobnego scenariusza: mam jakieś pięć lat i czekam na mamę w samochodzie. Kupiła moje ulubione cukierki w czekoladzie. Leżą i mnie kuszą, chociaż wcale nie jestem głodna. Jestem znudzona i osamotniona. Ale tego problemu nie rozwiążę, bo nie jestem go świadoma ani zdolna go pojąć, a cukierki są smaczne i na chwilę mnie rozproszą. Więc jem jednego… i drugiego… aż zostaje po nich tylko foliowa torebka pełna kolorowych papierków. Chowam je więc do kieszeni na rękawiczki i udaję, że nic się nie stało.

Wiele z takich sytuacji miało miejsce tak dawno, że wiem o nich tylko z opowiadań rodziców.

To dziwne uczucie — wiedzieć że jest się głupim ale nie móc nic na to poradzić. Z uporem maniaka robić coś z pełną świadomością, że jest szkodliwe. Dać się pokonać torebce cukierków…raz, i po prostu pozwolić się temu zdefiniować na resztę życia.

Pewien paradoks zaburzeń odżywiania polega na tym, że publicznie możesz wydawać się zupełnie normalna. Nawet jak miałam BMI 15 (norma jest pomiędzy 18 a 25) to kilka razy dziennie wszyscy widzieli jak duże porcje jadałam. Teraz jest podobnie: wyglądam “normalnie”, ale moje uczucia nie są. Zachowuję się normalnie, ale tylko w towarzystwie.

“Zajadanie emocji” to określenie żartobliwe i nieco protekcjonalne. Przecież jeśli rozwiązanie masz przed nosem, to problem nie może być taki znowu poważny. Jednak wszystkie moje dotychczasowe próby “jedzenia uważnego” nazwałabym raczej leczeniem objawowym.

Trafiłam kiedyś na taki cytat motywacyjny, If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution. Jasne że jedzenie rozwiązuje tylko jeden problem — głód — ale przejadanie się świadczy o problemie nie z jedzeniem jako takim, tylko z czymkolwiek co w teorii powinno odpowiadać za regulację własnego zachowania.

Chcę przez to powiedzieć że zajadanie emocji może i nie rozwiązuje problemu, ale nic innego też go nie rozwiązało. Mogłabym zacząć kontrolować ten jeden obszar swojego życia — prawdopodobnie kosztem innych — ale obawiam się że zaskutkowałoby to jakimś nowym i poważniejszym problemem.

Konotacja “zajadania emocji” jest taka że nie wiem co robię, a mogłabym, i powinnam, przepracować te emocje zamiast ich unikać.

Ale 1) ja wiem co robię, i 2) to nie są emocje. To nie jest jakiś przejściowy stan. To jest uporczywe wrażenie przekonanie wiedza, że jestem w jakimś sensie niewystarczająca. Towarzyszące mi od zawsze przeświadczenie, że nie mam narzędzi by być taką jaką “powinnam” lub chciałabym być.

Jest cały szereg emocji, które ktoś bardziej samoświadomy rozpoznałby w sytuacjach u mnie niezawodnie kończących się napadem obżarstwa… i by go to powstrzymało. U mnie — nawet gdy odnotuję że głodna nie jestem — na tym się kończy, a jem i tak i tak.

Jestem introwertyczką, która nie toleruje własnego towarzystwa: bez reszty skupiona na sobie, a jednak samotność jest dla mnie nie do zniesienia.

Nie wiem z którym etapem przetwarzania własnych myśli i obaw mam problem, ale wiem że unikam konfrontacji z nimi jak ognia. I tam gdzie inni dopatrzyliby się smutku, złości, wstydu czy bezsilności, ja odczuwam …. nicość, która woła o zapełnienie. Pustka — czyli niezdolność zaspokojenia swoich potrzeb? Pustka — czyli wrażenie nieprawomocności własnych uczuć? czy strach że sama sobie z nimi nie poradzę?

Nie wiem. W każdym razie czuję się niekompletna, wybrakowana. Użalanie się nad sobą zarówno jest skutkiem tego uczucia, jak i je potęguje.

Czasami, chociaż rzadko, zdarzają mi się dni kiedy jestem na tyle zabiegana, że zapominam czy wręcz nie mam czasu tak “porządnie zjeść”. Ale są to kwestie wyłącznie logistyczne, i jak tylko mam wolną chwilę to nadrabiam te zaległości i to z nawiązką.

Tęsknię za czasami kiedy jadłam to na co miałam ochotę, wtedy gdy byłam głodna. Moje dzieciństwo wydaje mi się jakąś mityczną krainą także pod tym względem. Prawda jest jednak inna. Wcale nie było żadnego punktu w czasie, kiedy moje nawyki żywieniowe — czy cokolwiek we mnie — byłoby “doskonałe” czy nawet doskonale zdrowe.

Zawsze trochę za bardzo lubiłam słodycze, tak jak zawsze trochę za bardzo lubiłam się przemądrzać i zawsze trochłę za łatwo było mnie zmanipulować. Po prostu kiedyś i jednego i drugiego byłam mniej świadoma, więc nie miałam powodu żeby się z tym źle czuć. Nie przyszłoby mi też do głowy żeby to zmieniać: po prostu taka byłam i tyle.

Nie mówiąc już o tym, że kiedyś tak jedzenie słodyczy jak i moja nieprzyjemna osobowość uchodziły mi na sucho, ale z czasem coraz trudniej to “przechodzi” w różnych sytuacjach w moim życiu.

Pozwólcie że opiszę mój tok myślenia przed kolejnym (niepotrzebnym) posiłkiem: jem go za karę. Wiem że poczuję się gorzej … i dlatego to robię. Zasługuję na to żeby się pogrążać, bo skoro w ogóle przyszło mi do głowy jeść kiedy nie jestem głodna, to to samo w sobie świadczy o tym jaka jestem głupia. Pozostaje mi więc tylko dowieść swojej głupoty, robiąc dokładnie tę rzecz której wiem że nie powinnam i jak by się nad tym tak bardziej zastanowić to może nawet nie mam ochoty robić.

Zasługuję na przedwczesną śmierć na chorobę cywilizacyjną. Zasługuję na odmawianie sobie nawet marginalnie bardziej wyrafinowanych form spędzania wolnego czasu, bo mój mały móżdżek i tak ich nie doceni. Nie, te myśli nie wybrzmiewają w ten sposób w mojej głowie…ale do tego się sprowadzają. Poza tym bycie grubą i zaniedbaną to dobra wymówka żeby wszystko inne też mieć w dupie.

Podoba mi się jedno z angielskich słów na nałóg: habit. “Nawyk.” Zdaję sobie sprawę że moje “uzależnienie” od jedzenia jest niczym więcej jak właśnie silnym przyzwyczajeniem. Z tym że tak głęboko zakorzenionym w mojej psychice, że sama nie potrafię określić kiedy się ono wykształciło.

Zdarzają się całe miesiące kiedy udaje mi się odciągnąć swoją uwagę od przejadania się. Problem w tym że nic nie budzi we mnie silniejszych emocji niż napad obżarstwa. Owszem, negatywnych, ale bez porównania bardziej intensywnych niż jakakolwiek książka, jakiekolwiek osiągnięcie czy porażka, jakikolwiek wyjazd na wakacje, cokolwiek.

Może jak już się pozna taką udrękę to dąży się do niej jako naturalnej części życia nawet jeśli obiektywnie jest zbędna i łatwo dałoby się jej uniknąć. Potrzebuje się jej, bo inaczej zapomina się że się żyje. Może gdyby nie te negatywne emocje płynące z jedzenia, ten wstyd, upokorzenie, obrzydzenie, to okazałoby się że nie mam po co żyć.

Bo mówię…. może i mogłabym zmienić nawyk jako taki. Raczej przerzucić się na coś mniej szkodliwego dla zdrowia. Ale brakowałoby mi … wcale nie nawyku samego w sobie. Tylko wszystkich tych uczuć które we mnie wywołuje. Tej kaskady neuroprzekaźników pędzących najbardziej wydeptanymi skrótami w moim mózgu.

O ile nie jestem czymś zajęta, normalnym dla mnie stanem umysłu jest pustka. Nie mylić z “nie czuję niczego.” Czuję. Różne rzeczy z przewagą lęku. I chyba muszę się poważnie zastanowić dlaczego traktuję nienawiść do samej siebie jako tej pustki akceptowalną alternatywę. Nawyk łatwiej byłoby zmienić gdybym wiedziała z czego się bierze.

regulating the dys

having agreed on postponing our sessions until July, one of the things my therapist emphasized during our last appointment was that i really need to keep talking about whatever it is that i feel i need to talk about. this seemed counterintuitive, but also validating. guilty as i feel about it, much as i wish i could stop it, there’s still loads and loads of things i need to share before i can process & get past them.

and yes, i’m aware that talking about shit in abstract terms is one of my favorite ways of avoiding real responsibility. it’s a coping mechanism of sorts. not a very productive one, to be sure, but a skill nonetheless.

what i will try to do is i will try to make the abstract concrete, and to put a more positive spin on things. I can’t help being a verbal processor; might as well turn it into a strength. if all i do is hypothesize, i should at least be able to shift my perspective, and potentially it can make all the difference.

to my surprise, after my all time low didn’t come the biggest high of my life. that’s what would normally have happened. but this roller-coaster ride wasn’t sustainable. and so i settled on a place in between, or rather removed from, depression and happiness. i put a hold on experiencing my emotions, because i needed to break the pattern in order to examine it.

examine it i did, though i’m still not clear on why it’s there or how to change it for good — but at least I know about it. and i know that certain things contribute to my mood getting better or worse, and there’s not that One Thing that i was looking for that would solve All My Problems.

The concrete has always sounded incredibly banal to me, but I have come to understand that there’s no shame in admitting that it does help.

for whatever reason, i resented the fact that im actually relatively low-maintenance, and I don’t need that much to be happy. solution? i didn’t do any of those things, because they seemed pathetic. unambitious. boring.

it’s almost as if i wanted to amount to fuck knows what, without meeting any of my most basic needs first. but you know what, you can’t just skip steps like that, and neglecting self-care catches up with you eventually. I have to take care of myself not out of vanity, but because nobody else will.

i also now appreciate that self-regulation is a complex skill, but very much a teachable one. And that precisely because it is so complex, sometimes baby steps can take you further than you thought they would (or could).

i get sad sometimes, but i can be okay with that sadness. i may not be able to make it go away, but there are things i can do to get through it. make it more manageable. learn from it. and if all else fails, distract myself from it until it passes on its own as it always does.

it will come back. but i will be better prepared to deal with it.

PS i haven’t yet figured out how to credit the artist, but the featured image is one of my favorites by @PDLComics (obviously).

left on read

Healing is not what you expect it to be. I had this idea of what was wrong and what needed to change in order for me to “finally be happy,” but along the way i embraced the simple truth that the lower my expectations, the happier I am. Letting go of such a narrow definition of happiness has allowed me to find joy where i would never have anticipated it.

I AM SO SORRY to all of you who I recently texted only to stop replying to your messages.

i withdraw. it’s a problem. i know i can’t expect people to always reach out and put up with being ghosted all the time, but i, i genuinely don’t mean to act so entitled. I’ll do better in future, i promise…

If it makes you feel any better, I’m not talking to anybody right now, not even my therapist, not even about myself. In fact that’s the last thing i wanna talk about, since it’s pretty much all i think about. I’ve actually decided to suspend therapy for the time being, in part because sessions via WhatsApp just don’t seem like enough. I need face to face.

i confess … mostly its because we reached a point where i needed to actually start working on myself, and I… couldn’t. funny how that’s the exact problem i came to therapy with: i can talk and complain and blame-shift until the cows come home, and i can berate myself for being a shitty human being, but i won’t do anything about it.

But we agreed that i have made some progress. less than i would have hoped for, but i’ll resume therapy when im ready. for now, i need some time alone. to live my life instead of dissecting it all over again.

Not much is going to change, but that’s the beautiful part: i don’t have this need to change every aspect of my being anymore. it was never going to happen. best thing i can do is to adjust.

stupid as it may sound, it had gotten to the point where i felt like i wasn’t going to make any progress unless i left therapy and focused on other things for a while, because, like,,, two things I struggle with are talking things to death, and leaning on other people too much. and now that i understand it, i have this — perhaps misguided — need to talk less and be less needy, which I KNOW isn’t supposed to be about ignoring your friends who care about you but also you know how im introverted and also pretty dumb??? But yeah, I felt that I was becoming too dependent on my therapist, and also that i really shouldn’t be talking about myself so much rn.

Anyway. I know i’m not going to suddenly become driven and ambitious overnight. but i’m trying to frame my responsibility for my life in positive terms instead of forcing things or blaming myself for being lazy & things like that.

EVERYTHING used to seem overwhelming. most things still do. but now i try to focus not on the pressure of obligation, but on how it’s going to feel when Im done. that, or on, like, … what I want to do. because my “laziness” is just one more thing i needed to take to the extreme in order to realize that it’s not infinite.

And that sometimes even I am struck by a spontaneous need to be productive. creative. sociable. physically active. affectionate. whatever. That when an action is genuine, I’m not so worried about whether I’m “up to it”, i can just … do it.

the best thing about therapy was how it made everything click. in a way i can’t fully grasp just yet, but which was a revelation nonetheless, because it makes intuitive sense.

and that was that I AM SO SELF-OBSESSED. you’ve probably known it all along, as have I, but the thing i didn’t realize was that it was at the root of most of my problems. which doesn’t make them any less valid, nor any more easily fixable, nor even more “my fault”. It’s just a fact: there is a road to recovery, and it involves directing my attention to things other than myself, as hard as that may be for such a shameless narcissist as myself.

Also, if I don’t respond to your text, … please remind me. Pretty please. It’s not that I don’t care; I just need to be reminded that you do.

take care.

just a lil spring update

If this blog proves anything, it’s that there comes a point where even I get sick of talking about myself. I guess it makes sense though, that I should feel better after having my need for attention satisfied. its hard to know when to shut up. i’ve been bottling it all up for so long that i now have this urge to share everything, with everybody, all the time. But it’s been less and less lately.

it’s like all this time i was stuck in high school, as i used to say, i’ve just been unable to process and like, integrate, all my experiences, because from the get-go i would just assume that whatever i was feeling or going through was wrong or pointless or whatever.

I’ve been screaming for approval from others because I didn’t believe my own opinions and perceptions were valid. but now that i’ve broken this sort of “taboo” of mine, it doesn’t seem so scary and overwhelming anymore, and i can move on to other things.

i will probably always be the self-involved ball of anxiety that i am, but somehow admitting it… makes me feel less guilty about it. for starters, i can only fight it if im aware of it.

But also, paradoxically, completely letting loose has made me realize that … maybe it’s not as bad as i thought? Maybe I’m not just a black hole of insecurity. Maybe my capacity for self-pity isn’t infinite, and maybe even i can get sick and tired of my own bs. And maybe i don’t need other people to tell me what to do all the time?

there’s less fear now, in owning my decisions, even if they’re small.

and I can’t write, because writing has always been my escape from reality, whereas now I don’t need that as much anymore. without constantly questioning & doubting myself & worrying, i can focus on the present moment, which honestly i can’t remember the last time that that was an option for me. so I simply don’t want to escape.

Reality doesn’t have to be all ambitious and sophisticated. I have gotten exactly zero things done during this lockdown. but I’ve dealt. and i did things that I actually truly enjoyed, just for myself, which i also never realized that i was able to tell whether *I* actually enjoyed something.

dang, I’m not making any sense. but honestly though. finally i can just, like, play with my dog, or go for a run, or listen to a podcast, or wash the fucking dishes, and just — like — know that that’s what I’m supposed to be doing at that moment.

i can’t put a finger on what’s changed, but something has. And this is not me turning over a new leaf or anything like that, btw. I have more realistic expectations. but that’s exactly what im saying is that i’m still basically the same — im still just talking (for now at least) — but now it bugs me that im just talking.

i don’t wanna just talk anymore.

a day in the life

the scent of my new fabric softener reminds me of high school.

of getting up early in the morning, going to the toilet, weighing myself, necessarily in that order. writing that number down in my food log, counting how many calories it was going to take before i dropped another pound. after my daily weigh-in — a prolonged body check in the mirror, get dressed, make breakfast.

i never starved myself; in fact i always took pride in not skipping meals. can you believe that at the height of my eating disorder (ED for short. cute) i was consuming up to 2300 calories a day? no binges, either; not a single time out of control for two plus years.

control was my thing. i didn’t have to deprive myself of food when just restricting my intake did the job: i was losing weight like crazy.

so, yeah, breakfast. at precisely 5:30 or whatever it was. first down a full mug of black coffee so that youre full to begin with. then, oatmeal. 45 grams of steel-cut oats, not 44, not 46. when in doubt round three tablespoons up to 50, such as when you’re at a friend’s house. kitchen scales = essential piece of equipment and your best friend. makes you feel so safe and secure. water, no milk. 15 grams of nuts of your choice. except … walnuts pack a staggering 654 calories per 100 grams, cashews a mere 553 … do with that info what you will. sometimes i would go crazy and add a piece of 99% dark chocolate in the mix and melt the whole thing in the microwave. pretty Decadent, huh? i felt super guilty for being so indulgent afterward tho, so I didn’t do it very often. instead, over time i started making some odd dietary choices, such as swapping nuts for eggs because they loaded more protein for like half the calories. what i generously called “cake” tasted more like soggy cardboard, but i still devoured the whole thing, the noise of my spoon scratching against the bowl waking up my parents in the next room.

or My Spoon and My Bowl, I should say… when you are obsessed with food, you’re pretty particular about that sort of thing. i would get pretty angry whenever some of my utensils were missing when I NEEDED THEM!!! or, god forbid, when somebody else had eaten that sorry cup of low-fat yogurt i was looking forward to that entire day and specifically left that extra 124 kcal of room for. i would get pretty angry pretty easily. well, it was more like i was perpetually irritated or annoyed, ready to pounce on you the instant you inadvertently triggered me with some seemingly innocuous remark.

brush teeth, leave house, go school. arrive early so sift through your food log filled with motivational quotes for “fun”.

DRINK WATER!!!!11111 sOOOO much water. take not one but two 1.5 liter bottles to school and have even that not be enough, so at some point start considering switching to those huge ass 5L bottles instead. go pee every 15 minutes.

DID YOU KNOW…

that on 3 (three) separate occasions on my way back home I peed myself (yes, you read that correctly) because I just couldn’t hold it in any longer between the train station and my house? youd think that one time should be enough, but nah…

you need to hydrate, always remember that ❤️

class … is a blur…

friends … are a blur…

LUNCH BREAK! stuff yourself with whatever you meticulously measured out the day before. i was a big fan of cauliflower. it was low on calories and carbs, yet so damn filling. and by “filling” i mean that it FILLED the entire classroom / bus / wherever else I was with that god awful smell of sulfur that makes you wanna puke. but i didn’t care; i had as much right to eat as anybody.

on my way home i let myself have something sugary, like an oatmeal cookie or a PB+J with banana…on…wholegrain bread… as a pre-workout snack. imagine what that did to my stomach during exercise xD

the original idea was that i would exercise three to four times a week. seeing as i had plenty of time on my hands though, because of my lack of social life, that quickly turned to four to five to six to seven.

oh, i forgot to mention, i usually slept on the bus because I was JUST so full of energy! which was good, because it left me all energized for my workout.

i hated HIIT. hated every minute of it. but home workout videos were easier than going to the gym; at least nobody was judging me. at Pure, the personal trainer who first introduced me to weight training later told me to lay off the treadmills or he was going to tell my parents he was concerned. i smiled, nodded politely, thanked him, said i was fine, kept hitting the elliptical instead for at least a couple more months. they were more effective, anyway.

have dinner, update food log, do homework (necessarily in that order). in theory i could have “everything in moderation”. in practice tho, if you’re cutting calories you’ll likely choose 120g of lean chicken turkey over a slice of salami 99 per cent of the time. stalk celery, which i used to hate, suddenly became my new favorite vegetable.

in my free time i would fill this giant pink folder with article clippings from my two favorite magazines, Shape and Women’s Health. i loved drooling at the pictures next to recipes i was never going to make because they were dripping with fat (like one spoonful of olive oil specifically).

another one of my favorite pastimes was endlessly scrolling through my tumblr feed full of thinspo posted by blogs that mistakenly called themselves “fitblrs”. living and breathing “body goals” screws you up.

when i was out — probably doing my grocery shopping, for i didn’t do much else outside my bedroom — i didn’t see people, i saw sizes. and it’s the weirdest thing… i wasn’t one of those girls who think everyone else is skinnier than they are, i knew i was underweight. but logic didn’t apply to me; i just wanted that rush of finding out you lost another pound, and another, and another. I considered myself pro-health and didn’t see the hypocrisy.

my bedtime was pretty early: the sooner you fall asleep, the less time you have to notice you’re still hungry.

the winter of 2012, it must have been, saw me layering leg warmers on top of jeans on top of leggings on top of tights, and sporting skiing shoes that were larger than i was, two or three pairs of socks underneath, and still shivering with cold.

i remember that Christmas, AFTER i did my usual round of cardio, i exercised for three more hours on my indoor stationary bike just so i could feel okay with having like a dumpling or whatever later that evening.

my formerly beautiful hair became brittle and started falling out in clumps, and hair appeared on other parts of my body that wasn’t there before — i later learned that this is called lanugo and it’s your body’s way of trying to keep itself warm.

my skin was dry, my eyes hollow, and my nose seemed to take up half of my face.

and among all the “are you okays” there were still some “how do you do its”. i dismissed the former, cherished the latter, even when it was coming from my friend’s depressed, insecure, yet herself scary thin mom whom i was actually pretty worried about.

i was an authority on nutrition, people were coming to me for advice, they paid attention. i couldn’t let that go, couldnt let myself slip up; failure wasn’t an option. but i hated the thought that my appearance or my behavior might inspire somebody else to try to achieve that same level of malnutrition. i didn’t want other people to be “fat” or “skinny”; i wanted them to be healthy and happy … just not myself though.

and I could wear ANYTHING! i mean i didn’t; i still thought everything looked awful with my body type so i mostly stuck with baggy sweaters. but i had a CHOICE!

i didn’t admire my friends’ intelligence or their sense of humor; i envied their ability to eat junk food and still have a perfect, flat stomach. i didn’t pursue relationships or good grades, every minute of every day was about making CERTAIN i wasn’t going over my somewhat arbitrary calorie limit.

and all this for what?

i’m not exactly sure.

głupio mi

CBT zakłada, że ludzie są z gruntu racjonalni; że wszystko co robią, każde ich zachowanie, ma jakieś logiczne uzasadnienie: mniej lub bardziej praktyczne przekonanie o sobie czy o świecie. Jestem pewna że mogłabym doszukać się takiego zgrabnego wytłumaczenia dla najdrobniejszych swoich decyzji i nawyków; po fakcie przypisać im sens którego pierwotnie wcale nie miały (przynajmniej w moim odczuciu). Pytanie ile z nich byłoby trafione.

Prawda jest taka że nie odbieram własnej motywacji jako opartej na jakichś przesłankach; ona mi się po prostu przytrafia — lub nie. Gdyby wynikała z wiary w to czy tamto, miałabym na nią jakiś wpływ. Sęk w tym że zachowuję się akurat tak a nie inaczej bo czuję, że nie mam wyboru. Że moje zachowania nie wypływają z potencjalnie zmiennych przekonań, tylko z mojej niezmiennej natury: że po prostu jestem głupia, leniwa i impulsywna. Że jestem nudna, pasywna, samolubna. A ponad wszystko, że brak mi niezależności, kreatywności, inicjatywy, pewności siebie czy jakiejkolwiek innej siły sprawczej żeby wywrzeć realny wpływ na własne życie. Uciekam przed wysiłkiem bo boję się nawet nie tyle porażki, co samej odpowiedzialności.

Łatwo się poddaję… jakby mi nie zależało. A później złoszczę się że nie dostaję tego, na co przecież we własnym mniemaniu nie zasługuję. Jeśli jakimś cudem uda mi się coś osiągnąć lub z czymś zmierzyć, to przypisuję to przypadkowi, szczęściu, zaniżonym oczekiwaniom innych, bezwartościowości samego przedsięwzięcia… a mimo tego wszystkiego mam wrażenie że w jakimś wymiarze oszukuję.

Poddaję się bo to najszczersze co mogę zrobić… bo mi się należy: zostać zmiażdżoną przez pierwszą lepszą błahostkę, nie przyjąć najmniejszego wyzwania, bo i tak mu nie sprostam.

Najgorzej kiedy jestem sama. Owszem, jestem introwertyczką, ale bardziej mi to szkodzi niż pomaga. Izoluję się od ludzi, a wtedy okazuje się że jako jednostka nie mam żadnych preferencji w kwestii spędzania czasu, i w rezultacie nie robię nic. Nie potrafię sobie znaleźć zajęcia może nie dlatego że lubię nicnierobić czy też nic mnie nie interesuje, ale po prostu dlatego że nic nie jest w moich oczach wystarczająco produktywne, wszystko to strata czasu.

Jakby sensem i celem życia było spędzenie każdej chwili na działaniach które zmierzają w jakimś bardzo konkretnym kierunku. Tylko jakim, skoro kiedy już osiągniesz wyznaczony cel to okazuje się że życie idzie dalej, a ty odczuwasz rozczarowanie i jeszcze większą pustkę niż wcześniej? Druga opcja to spoczęcie na laurach w niezdrowym samozadowoleniu. I co dalej?

Zmienność budzi we mnie dyskomfort. Nie chcę przyjąć do wiadomości, że żyje się nie po to żeby dotrzeć do jakiegoś punktu za którym nie ma już nic. Że taki punkt nie istnieje i jest tylko złudzeniem na podobieństwo chrześcijańskiego raju.

Potrafiłabym żyć dla kogoś: to byłby jakiś zewnętrzny cel; nie potrafię natomiast żyć dla siebie.

Jeśli chodzi o samostanowienie czy samoregulację, to mam wrażenie jakbym miała narzędzia, tylko nie umiała z nich korzystać. Miała materiały, ale żadnej wizji jak je zaaranżować w jakąś jedną, sensowną spójną całość.

Kiedy werbalizuję wszystkie te swoje obawy, to aż mi wstyd że przed zrobieniem czegoś ze sobą powstrzymują mnie tak podstawowe kwestie, z którymi inni jakoś sobie radzą. Ale jednocześnie… chyba wcale nie w pełni szanuję ich starania. Chyba w nich też trochę wątpię: że wcale nie odczuwają spełnienia, tylko też się rozpraszają na nieco bardziej wyrafinowane sposoby. Że mają więcej metod na zapełnienie pustki, ale ta pustka zawsze tam była, jest i będzie.

Trudno pisać to wszystko i nie brzmieć jakbym usiłowała stwarzać pozory głębi. Nie chcę. Jestem płytka i moje lęki też, w tym cały problem.

Czekam. Czekam aż ktoś mnie nakieruje, oceni, pochwali, skrytykuje, cokolwiek. Zdiagnozuje i naprawi. Zero miejsca na niejasne uczucia i niepewną przyszłość.

To bez sensu… teoretycznie mam bardzo ograniczoną perspektywę, a jednak sparaliżowana jestem tym że wisi nade mną ogrom wszystkiego, i to on mnie przytłacza. Ta niemożność podjęcia “Właściwej Decyzji” w obliczu wszystkich teoretycznych możliwości.

Najbardziej na świecie chcę się zmienić, a to zmiana właśnie wydaje mi się zupełnie niewykonalna.