Archive for October, 2012

I wish I could help more

Someone through a friend of mine just talked about an incident that happened when he was walking home last night. This man was laying into his girlfriend and he yelled out for him to stop. So the man stops and then goes to go after him and then the woman protests and sticks up for this abusive man. He then just had to leave the situation. He asks, “Did I do the right thing saying something?” I told him I felt he did even though he risked his own safety and possibly hers for tonight, but I said, when someone did something like that when I was in that situation, that memory burned in my head and I think it’s the very reason I was able to leave later. Someone told me this behavior was wrong and unacceptable by calling out stop.

This made me think of an incident walking to the bus stop a week and half ago. I saw this man treating his girlfriend very badly, pushing and shoving her, pulling her hair, glaring at her and calling her names. This reminded me so much of my ex. I just wanted to walk up and tell him to stop, that the way he was treating her was so wrong. There were all these other people standing at the bus stop with them and they said or did nothing. I was afraid to say anything because I thought he’d come after me. So I kept walking on to my stop. I kind of regret it. Should I have said something? Or would he have come after me and because everyone else in this city is so passive, would no one have helped me if he did? But, if I had said something, would she know now this is not acceptable and would leave him?

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Major Breakthrough: Understanding What It Is I’m Afraid Of

I wasn’t going to write about this because it is all too personal, but it is too important to pass up. Today in therapy, I had a major breakthrough on understanding why I was so afraid of “being alone.” Yesterday I was talking to someone about all the things I have planned and the time I’ve spent with my friends and they said to me, “You’re afraid of being alone, aren’t you?” This stuck with me. I couldn’t quite agree that it was being afraid of being alone that causes me to keep so busy and to be very social. But, yes, I have been wondering for some time, why is it my whole life I always keep busy? If I am not doing something, I feel like it is a waste of time. My therapist kept asking questions to help me get at exactly what it all meant. He asked me to clarify what “waste of time” means to me. I could clearly identify, to me, it means not enjoying life and not doing something that matters to me or applies to my goals.

He asked how does it make you feel if you “waste time.” I said, “aggravated.” “Unhappy.” He asked me to think about the times when I felt the most despair and on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the most despair and 10 being the least, what it was. I could quickly identify 3 of the worst times in my life where I felt the most despair. And this should be no surprise.

1. When I realized my ex-husband was abusive, I felt like I could not do anything to get out of it, that I was fully responsible for putting myself in it, and that I had lost all of my personhood

2. When I was raped in college and I was told a) to shut up b) that I wasn’t really raped and c) to get over it by the people I cared most about in life. This too removed my own sense of self.

3. An incident with my caregiver growing up that also removed my sense of self and having needs and wants

All of these times I felt so much despair, what I categorized as a 1 (the worst) that I wanted to not be alive to just escape the pain of them.

I came to the understanding that I’m not afraid of being alone. I’m afraid of feeling so much despair that I keep busy to avoid that feeling. In these past two weeks I have found I am quite content being alone. I never get bored. I never hate being with myself. I actually love myself and have a lot of compassion for myself. But, now I fully understand what it is I’m afraid of. And thinking about it, is enough to make me cry. But, I also know I am incredible for getting through all that I have gotten through. I am a strong woman who has regained my personhood. I am me. And no one can ever take that away again. Ever.

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Body Image

I went clothes shopping with a friend this week since it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten any new clothes and my wardrobe has been looking a little bare and stagnant. It was a weird experience. I think I might have talked about over the past 2 years since I left my abusive marriage, my body has been changing. I dropped some weight and my body shape has become much more lean. Since the marathon training and the past couple months, my body has yet again shed some pounds and gotten even more lean. But, my mind has not exactly caught up with this. My shopping experience testified to this.

A sales lady was helping me in one of the stores and asks, “What size are looking for?” I was looking at toothpick cords and toothpick dress pants, something I would have never thought would work on me but wanted to try. I say a size 30 aka an 8. She looks me up and down and goes, “No way! You are not a size 8. You are more like a size 4.” I look at her in disbelief. Really? So I compromise with her and take size 6’s back to the fitting room and try them on and show her, and she’s like, “See! I’m right, you’re a size 4” and proceeds to go get me the right size. She was right. They fit and looked so much better.

The thing is I still don’t see myself as a smaller person. I still look in the mirror some days and think I’m huge. And then other days some girl sits next to me on the bus who I think is so tiny and fit, and then I realize, holy cow, I look just like her.

I was getting dressed for work yesterday, and I had noted the last time I wore this pair of pants they were starting to swim on me. But, I put them on and was like there’s no way I can wear these. They’re too big. So the other unfortunate side effect to shrinking is having to buy new clothes. But, talking about it therapy, I’d like to think the reason I’m shrinking in body fat percentage is because I am getting better from trauma. Stress increases cortisol which signals your fat cells to hold onto their fat stores. There are several scientific studies and articles conducted about this. I’d like to think that’s what’s happening. But, part of me still feels my body image is still not right. Maybe I am really fat? Maybe I’m not? Who knows? I know having hard facts like weight and body fat percentage helps me verify whether my perception is right or not. And right now they’re telling me I’m very healthy and pretty lean. I could use some yoga to tone up and build other muscle. But, otherwise I think I’m pretty happy with myself.

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Influence or 7 Strengths of Shy People

Yesterday I had a strange experience getting my morning coffee. The guy taking orders and taking care of business was just so frazzled, trying to do everything at once and so fast that his pace nearly gave me an anxiety attack. I kept thinking in my head, just chill out, it’s coffee, there’s no reason to act like that or you’re going to end up dying before you get to age 22. And seriously stressing yourself out is not going to get us our coffee any faster. And no one here is going, will you speed it up? He must have picked this up from me somehow because by the time I got to the front of the line, he had calmed down quite a bit.

I wondered if this was just that I was closer to the end of the line so there wasn’t a reason to hurry anymore. Or if like I’ve been told a million times over my life, that I have a calming effect over people. I’ve also been told I seem so calm when in situations where I should be freaking out. When in reality, inside I am totally freaking out. But, I also know that I have dealt with worse and can deal with whatever is being dished up. That’s resiliency.

I decided to google the phenomenon and google brought me to 7 Strengths Shy People Have.

3. Being quiet leads to a calming effect on others. Other people will notice that you do not say a whole heck of a lot, and very often they choose to view shy people as simply being more calm. In American society, where people are more often rewarded for “tooting their own horn,” being quiet and calm can have a profound positive impact on other people.

But, I also know that some people read being quiet as being stuck up.

A while ago I wrote about DISC personalities. The personalities are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. I tested very high for Influence. So maybe I can have a calming effect on some people. I’m probably just reading into things too much (hypervigilance), but it’s an observation.

How about you? Do you think you might have an influence on others? Do you think people pick up on each other’s tension or calmness and adjust to it? Or am I just super hypersensitive?

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Resilience and Next Epic Win

The other day I read Eric’s post on healthdemystified, “I am not dead” and realized I could be writing a similar post. I’m not dead and though this past month and a half was really hard, I am going to be much better off for it. Like Eric, I went through a break up and was very busy. My heart was crushed. I felt completely empty and like I lost my closest friend. I thought I had gave up on SuperBetter, but in reality I was really playing it and doing everything I learned from the workbook and the work I’ve been doing over the past 2 years.

Each time I was upset, I picked up the phone and called a friend or family member. I stepped into survival mode and took care of business. I made plans to spend time with friends. This is the first time actually in my life where I will be living alone. I was scared to death of that. But, it has actually been a great experience. It has made my friendships stronger and I realize I have an excellent support network.

This week I was reflecting on this and realized what a huge difference this is than who I was 2 years ago in an abusive marriage. I would have never thought to pick up the phone and call anyone for help. I didn’t have close friends who I could trust and lean on and also be there for them too. I would have suffered in silence and done everything on my own. What a huge difference this is! I have come a long way.

This weekend I am going to accomplish my next Epic Win, running my first Marathon. I have really enjoyed the journey to get here. The training, the many runs and brunches with my running group. And I started thinking yesterday, “What do I want to do next for my Epic Win?” I have been thinking I’m ready to help other people through getting better from trauma and anxiety again. I have already started doing something to help someone who is amazing. I also am ready to reach out more again on the SuperBetter forum. I also have a lot of personal goals and things planned to work on. I am excited about the future.

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