Confusion

I faced a dilemma this week. One I’m not sure I resolved. I have a friend, a kind of special friend, the kind that come with benefits of the …. beneficial kind, if you know what I mean. 😉

I could write for hours about how all this started. About how he opened up to me and told me how long he’d been attracted to me. Mentioned times at a friend’s house, BBQs and parties, years past, and him remembering all this time what I was wearing and how I smiled or flicked my hair. About how nervous he was. About how much I learned from this, about him and about men in general. Their vulnerability in the face of … vulnerability and emotion. And how much I learned about s*x and how it can be decent and warm and loving. But those are other stories, for other times.

The last couple of times haven’t been so great for me. Sure, physically, there’s something, but inside I’ve felt like a piece of meat, and sometimes come out the other side feeling like this. We had a date for tonight, but for days I’ve felt really uncomfortable about it. A knot in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t work out. I’ve done it before, so why the knot? Why this time? Was it body image? The flashbacks that crept in last time? Pure laziness? My recent dance with depression? All of these things? Eventually I realised I didn’t want to feel like that again, despite the attractions of s*x and a night of intimacy. And despite the pull of past messages and past behaviours about doing what men tell you to do.

I woke this morning feeling pretty clear that I didn’t want to do it. Or didn’t want to feel like a piece of meat and have all that come up again. So I cancelled. For a minute or two I felt good about having a modicum of self-respect. And then other stuff came up that’s left me even more confused. I started to feel guilty for cancelling and letting him down. I felt stupid for some reason, I think for thinking anything would happen, or for thinking he would care that I cancelled (he didn’t) or something. I’m not really sure. And a sense of panic that I’d done the wrong thing. An internal pull between wanting to feel loved, and not wanting to feel like sh*t afterwards. I can only assume this is more old messages, though I’m not sure where they come from or what they mean.

It’s too confusing. Why does everything have to be so complicated and messy and confusing? Why can’t one thing in my life just be simple?? 😉

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Expressive Arts Carnival No 14 – Hopes and Dreams

This month’s Expressive Arts Carnival theme is:

Through drawing, painting, or any other visual means, create an image that incorporates your personal hopes and dreams.

I have blogged on this theme too many times to count! It felt too tedious to recreate any of these posts or images here, so – always the rule breaker in this Carnival – I did something slightly different. Here is my entry:

This is a photo I took on one of my travels. Travel continues to be one of my hopes and dreams, but that isn’t the point.

For me, the point of this photo is to remember that attaining my hopes and dreams as a pathway, a journey. It’s not always easy; in fact sometimes it’s downright difficult – but if I keep working at it, even one step at a time, then one day I’ll (probably) get there.

I say ‘probably’ because there are no guarantees – other life events get in the way, we change our hopes and dreams as time goes on, and sometimes, we find the journey too hard at the moment, and we turn back.

I also say ‘one step at a time’. This is an important part for me to remember because I’ve tended to be an A to Z person. As my therapist once said, I thought I could go in, spew out all the heinous sh** from the past, and suddenly feel better. Well, of course that didn’t happen! It’s the same with my hopes and dreams. I need to remember that half the point is the journey itself, and enjoying that along the way, or if I can’t enjoy it, then at least to remember that it’s a journey!

On a slightly different note – it’s funny how these Carnival entries sometimes don’t turn out the way you initially expect them to. Like this one, for example. When I started on this, it felt tedious and ‘boring’ because I’ve blogged on this topic many times before. But when I finally stumbled upon the approach I’ve ended up taking, it really sat comfortably inside. I know when I pay attention to that particular feeling I’m on the right track … or path. 😉

Reflections on 2010

I like New Year about as much as I like Christmas. I’m glad the hoopla is finally over and I can shift into something resembling normal for the year. A couple of my bloggy friends have done a “year in review”, so thought I’d give this a whirl. 2010 was a big year for me and another bloggy friend reminded me that as survivors, we tend not to acknowledge our achievements nearly often enough. So here I am.

Some of my biggest (tangible) achievements:

  • Changing jobs – twice. Getting the hell away from that awful boss I had, and then getting a brand new job in a brand new sector.
  • Giving the whole relationships and dating thing a whirl. This wasn’t the big success I had hoped it would be, but it was an achievement for me to saddle up again. I learned a lot about myself in the process. Perhaps my biggest achievement was standing up for myself in The Great Leap Forward. 🙂
  • Taking holidays – several of them – and believing I deserved them 🙂
  • Doing group therapy, which saw my healing move forward in leaps and bounds. I met some amazing people, learned a lot about myself and realised (even finally believed) that I’m not alone driving the survivor highway. I also even believed that I’m one of those “amazing” people – I’ll never forget the day the Wonder Therapist looked at me and said, “now do you see what I see?” (umm, not really, but kind of LOL)
  • Health – this has been a really mixed bag for me, as I’ve had two rounds of surgery to endure and various other health issues. I’m listing it as an achievement, though, because I’m learning (slowly) to address health issues. I even went to the dentist for no apparent reason, other than a general check up! 🙂

I’ve also made many smaller, less tangible steps forward – wearing skirts, for example, as well as heels again. I’ve used public transport – for years a surefire way to a panic attack. And I’ve been out, at night, and discovered I’m not nearly as afraid of the dark as I once was. 🙂 I’m also not as scared of being stuck in a lift, and have sat in the middle of rows at the theatre without panicking. 🙂 I’m also starting to learn how to listen to my body – when it’s hungry, when it’s tired, or in pain. I’m still not great at this one, but I’m learning.

Of course, the year has had its ups and downs, with continued triggers that spin me out of control sometimes. The Wonder Therapist says “that’s what life is like” – it’s completely normal to have ups and downs. I did notice that sometimes the downs have come from me taking on too much leaving me vulnerable, mentally and physically. I’m guessing there’s a lesson in self-care in there – perhaps that’s a job for 2011? 😉

I’ve also continued to have struggles with my family – especially my mother, though at times I’ve been able to see the family dysfunctions from a distance and maintain (or at least try to) my own “self”. I’m  learning to accept my father’s bad behaviour: not accepting the unacceptable, but accepting that it’s *his* behaviour, and nothing to do with me. Nothing I do can change it, or make it better. He is the abusive a$$hat that he is, and that is no reflection on me at all. That’s progress for me, too. 🙂

One area that doesn’t feel so much like an achievement is that I still feel quite distant from “me” – from the person my therapist described here. That person still doesn’t feel like me, even though I *know* it is, and even though I wrote – and believed – posts like this one.

One thing that’s really helped me is the Expressive Arts Carnival (you can see all my entries here). I’ve loved the activities and the encouragement to do things creative. They’ve helped me think about things differently, and get in touch with different parts of me.

I’ve also learned to more consciously drawn on my lessons in therapy, and the blogosphere – as you all saw in my Christmas survival post, just this week. 🙂

My favourite posts for 2010 – and by chance also the most popular – were these:

Thanks for being with me in 2010 peeps, and I look forward to sharing 2011 with you! 🙂

Expressive Arts Activity No. 5: Wall

This month’s activity for the Expressive Arts Carnival is to:

Draw a wall using any medium, and show what is on one or both sides. Please also write a couple of sentences saying what the process was like for you.

This was another interesting activity for me, because I knew as soon as I read the instructions what I’d do. This is something I’ve been feeling for a while, and this gave me the opportunity to represent it visually.

Like many of us, I put up some pretty big walls a long time ago to protect myself. They worked. They kept me safe.

But, those walls also stopped me from doing things. I’ve protected myself, but I’ve also kept good things away – things I really want. I can see that now, which is why I’ve shown my image as a window. The bricks in my wall have largely come down, but I’m still looking out on life, or some aspects of life, that are still out of reach, even if the “decor” on my side of the window is nicer now.

I’m not sure how to take the window down, but I hope I’ll keep trying.

Courage, stupidity and randomness

I don’t know if it was post-anaesthesia brain fuzz or the furriness of pain killers, but I contacted Nice Guy last week. Yea, I know. I can hear your collective gasp from here. Possibly one of the dumbest things I’ve done, but it’s done now. I told him I missed him, and that I liked him, and that I was hoping we could possibly may be catch up. He said yes. 🙂

I’m still not sure if this was courageous (or “ballsy” as my therapist called it) or just plain stupid. My therapist said it was incredibly “ballsy” and a good thing to do – she almost couldn’t believe I’d done it either. I’m not really sure what made me do it. I felt the weight of post-op depression starting to sink in, and the thought that I’m all alone in the world start to weigh me down, and figured if I don’t contact him I’ll just never know. He sent me a lovely return email saying lots of nice things that he didn’t have to say. Anyway, hopefully we’ll catch up a bit later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

***

I rarely dream about my therapist but I did this week. I dreamt that she’d sent me a text message cancelling my appointment because she was going out and wanted to wear an evening gown. I emailed her about the dream, and she emailed back:

The Wonder Therapist: “That’s me! Dressed for a day’s work.”

LOL 😀

***

Speaking of a day’s work, I have a job interview this week. I’m excited, nervous, anxious, all the usual things. I’ve started preparing, though I’m not usually good at the early preparation… more of a last minute, fever pitch preparer. 😉 They sent me a document to read in preparation. Would you believe it’s a document on child abuse??? Ugh. That stuff used to be so easy for me to read. Now that I’m actually feeling my emotions I find it incredibly difficult. I’ll do my best to switch off so I don’t make an a$$ of myself in the interview!

***

In other news, I went to the symphony the other night. Possibly not the smartest thing I’ve done while recovering from surgery, but I really wanted to go, and couldn’t find anyone to take my ticket. I only stayed for the first half, but got to see and hear one of my favourite pieces. I was sitting up front so I got to see the pianist’s hands dancing effortlessly up and down the keyboard – it was brilliant.