Raw

Woke up feeling raw this morning. Feeling vulnerable, my mind trapped between a dream world and the waking.

We connected, in my dream. And not a superficial click clack, but a real, honest connection. We held each other and we agreed, nothing can be done. Nothing is possible. But we agreed that there was a thing that nothing could be done about. And for that moment we lived in the truth and everything felt right.

And this morning, slowing awakening to a sense of peace within. Then remembering, it was nothing more than a dream. And there was no honesty shared or meanings understood, not really. Nothing more than the every day. The pain sets in, and to protect my heart I shift back to the moment when we were living our truth. Or, the truth that I want so much to be ours.

And then back to the day to day, back to the pretending, the hurting, the smiles to hide what’s underneath. I surprise myself because I’m very good at the pretending. An amazing capacity to bury truth within.

And I’ve come to realize that truly, it’s my family I want to protect. True and healthy is our love and our life. It’s not that I want to change or to leave or quit or start. I want truth. I want to quit pretending this thing that we don’t speak about doesn’t exist. Or even to simply to know once and for all that in fact, it doesn’t exist. No matter how painful- I’d know. To live in a place of honesty, without causing ruin. That is my desire, above all.

 

 

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Powerless

Midnight
Head Swirling
Lover sleeping soundly next to
My thoughts go to you
Powerless

Your skin
Your voice
Your hands
Your beautiful hands

For one smile
One hint of love in your eyes
One moment of truth between us
I would move mountains

Thinking of you lying next to him
Not me
Not me
Never to be me

Take my hand, love
Let me hold you
Show me your heart, love
Let me know you

(c)

Crippling Anxiety

Sitting this week with a very heavy anxiety. Constant, persistent, sometimes nearly unbearable anxiety.

But I’m feeling it, and I’m not reaching for something to sooth the pain. I haven’t binged, and I’m not engaging in any behaviors that may trigger me.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. And it doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.

For so long I’ve found ways to numb my anxiety. Push it down. Shove it down. Hide it away. Ignore, retreat, hide.

But I’m feeling it. And there are tears and struggle and today I showered and I got out of the house to walk for 20min and it felt like I had conquered the world. Then I retreated to the safety of my blankets and it felt like the most loving self-care.

I’ve had an anxiety disorder my entire life, and I don’t know that I’ve ever just sat with it in such a present way.

Understanding that it’s the disorder causing my fears & panic does help, some. Maybe a little. Magnesium oil helped me some, last night- maybe. Walking helps- I guess. But truthfully, nothing helps. Not really. Just have to get through it- move past it. Hope that there will be a ‘past’- at least a little respite. At least for a moment. Organically- not of my own doing. Not because I shoved my feelings down.

It occurred to me today that perhaps this particular spell has come about because we’re approaching April. I associate the end of April with a trauma from the past. Perhaps there’s a connection. Wondering if I’ve ever experienced that connection before, and I realize I have no way of tracking that, because I wasn’t aware, wasn’t connected.

Proud to be moving forward and learning. Connecting to myself. Trying to need less from others. Trying to be my own best friend. Trying not to let the loneliness trigger more panic. I’m okay.

Sitting with the feelings. Trying to be okay.

Learning to love myself as I never have before.

 

 

 

 

reaching into darkness

Loved, but alone
embraced and misunderstood
Constantly looking for someone, something to fill the space
to give me something I can’t put into words
Something that’s not there, but longs to be

Reaching into darkness, trusting the wrong people
Deepening the void, widening the gap
no one reaches back

I had it once, even if we were just kids
we didn’t know any better
Loving without limitations
we didn’t know any better

Loved, heart lonely
no one and nothing can fulfill
I see that now

loved
truly, deeply
I know that to be true
Trusting intellect
my heart doesn’t understand
loving in return
fiercely

Trying
Trying harder

Out of place in this world
but aren’t we all

(c)

Sexuality: Finding My Truth

Sexuality. I’ve had the desire to write about the subject for some time, and haven’t been able to find the words or know where to start.

I am a woman without a sexual identity- or so it feels. More accurately, I am a woman without a clear understanding of my sexual identity.

I’m happily married to a man, but I’m not heterosexual.

I’ve fallen in love with and made love to women, but I’m not homosexual.

When I tell people I identify as ‘bisexual’, I don’t have a strong feeling of identity towards the word, the description. Mostly, I use the word because it is the most widely accepted way to express that I am not exclusively attracted to the opposite sex with which I identify, and that is not the experience that I carry with me.

Yes, I’m attracted to both men and women- but it feels so much deeper than that. That description doesn’t fully describe my heart. When I speak the words, I don’t feel moved or connected to the definition in any way. What I feel most strongly is that I’m attracted to people.

For me, what’s going on under the clothes doesn’t have much effect on me. If there’s mutual attraction, I want to show my love & intimacy in the way that best suits my partner- and because I’m attracted to my partner, I’m attracted to their body- in whatever form that may take. Energy, personality, chemistry- these all play a part in my attraction to another person. The gender they identify with does not.

I recently learned of the term ‘pansexual’, and it’s the first time that a sexual identity rang true to me. Except very few people seem to know what it means, so it’s not very useful in everyday conversation. So, for those reading this who may be new to the term, I’ll take a moment to define (thank you Wikipedia):

Pansexuality, or omnisexuality,[1] is sexual attraction, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of any sex or gender identity.[2][3] Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.[4][5]

Pansexuality may be considered a sexual orientation in its own right or a subset of bisexuality, to indicate an alternative sexual identity.[3][6][7] Because pansexual people are open to relationships with people who do not identify as strictly men or women, and pansexuality therefore rejects the gender binary, the “notion of two genders and indeed of specific sexual orientations”,[3][7] it is often considered a more inclusive term than bisexual.[8][9] To what extent the term bisexual is inclusive when compared to the term pansexual is debated within the LGBT community, especially the bisexual community.[9]”

I do pay special attention to the last sentence, and understand that some people within the SOGI community feel it’s a matter of semantics. However, when I read the definition, I find myself for the first time relating and connecting to the words. I feel a glimmer of hope that perhaps there is a category where I can belong.

More often than not, however, I find myself wishing that there wasn’t an emphasis on labeling my sexuality at all. Thinking about my sexual identity brings about a tremendous amount of shame, and I believe that is in part because I don’t feel a clear connection to a community. I find myself feeling envious of people in the queer community that identify strongly with a group, and can find support within.

Among my heterosexual friends, I often feel a strong sense of shame. I’m only ‘out’ to my partner, closest friends & colleagues, and don’t often feel open enough to discuss my sexuality outside of that select group. The shame is twofold. Firstly, because I’m married to a man, it is very easy for me to ‘pass’ in the hetero community. If I’m in a situation where I don’t feel safe coming out, I feel I’m not only betraying myself, but betraying the LGBTQIA community by remaining silent. Secondly, by not feeling safe to be myself, it’s a reminder to me of the stigma and ignorance that still surrounds the queer community. Intellectually, I know there is nothing ‘wrong’ with me. However, the feeling of stigma & shame is rooted very deeply, and I cannot always separate myself from it.

Within the Lesbian community, I find similar difficulties. I identify more with the lesbian community than with my hetero friends. However, as I’m married to a man and do not identify as lesbian, I know that I do not truly fit into this community no matter how strongly connected I feel, and don’t often feel welcome.

If you’ve read my other blog posts, you will know that I’m also in recovery from an Eating Disorder. I’ve very often in my life wondered what role the shame connected to my sexuality plays in my ED. I do know that once I started to come out to my friends, I simultaneously made a lot of progress in my recovery. I know that there is a connection- I just don’t know yet to what extent.

I have asked myself over and over again, why I feel the need to define my sexuality? I am happily married- why do I feel such a strong desire to explore this other side of myself? It won’t change anything- I have no plans to leave my partner, and feel truly happy in our life together. Finding a definition for my sexuality won’t change anything tangible. Why then do I continue to search? I don’t have an answer, but I do know it’s a part of myself I need to understand. It continually amazes me how far our heart will go to discover the truth within ourselves.

At the very least, as I continue on my path towards self-discovery and understanding, I’m deeply grateful for supportive friends, a loving partner, and a platform with which to share and express my thoughts.

Finding the Path to Recovery

My therapist said something to me last year that I cannot forget.

As I’m sure many in recovery can relate, I kept finding myself in cycles. I would have long periods of no ED behaviors or thoughts, and feel that I had the eating disorder figured out. I’d licked it! Problem solved. Then seemingly out of nowhere, I would find myself in the pit of despair, back in the cycle of binging, struggling to get out of BED in the morning (pun intended…), and feeling right back where I started. Like a fun house game of chutes & ladders- climbing up, and then falling back down as quickly as I went.

One session, after a particularly difficult episode, I was struggling very much, filled with self loathing. Why was it so difficult for me to move forward? Truly move forward.

It was then my therapist said to me that I needed to understand, I still had a very long way to go on my path to recovery. She felt that I thought I was much closer to recover than I actually was. She told me that in my mind, when I had those episodes of no behaviors, I felt like I was nearly recovered- when in reality, I was just in a small clearing in the woods. There was much more of the path still to go.

At the time, it really struck me. Made me feel at the same time inspired to keep pushing, and also frustrated that I really had no idea how much further I still had to go. And if I’m being honest, I thought maybe she was simply wrong. Maybe she just didn’t realize how far I’d already come. Surely, I was getting close.

I know these sorts of cycles are quite common with recovery of all kinds. I’ve heard many people share similar stories. When I was struggling the most, my ED had taken over so much of my life, it was all I knew. (trigger warning) I thought of nothing else, utterly obsessed with the thought of my next binge. Planning in advance, watching the clock until I was free from the work day, choosing my moves wisely, cloaked in secrecy.

It was then, when my ED was truly a daily struggle that consumed me, that I first sought help. My journal I kept at the time tells me that was May, 2005. 10.5 years ago. So began my journey.

Over the years, along my path to recovery, I’ve noted the time between the episodes has become longer and longer. First 1-week, then 2. Then a month, 2-months, 3-months… and on. I realize now I thought the goal was to make these ‘in-between’ periods, these periods of stasis, last until the intrusion no longer came. Simply stave off the ED- keep it at bay.

It is only now, 10.5yrs into my recovery, and 1-year after my therapist told me that I had much further to go until I truly understood- things are starting to become clearer. For the first time since ED came into my life, I have had a period of true clarity from the ED thoughts. So much so that when they returned, as they always seem to return, I truly began to recognize the voice of “ED” in my life. For the first time I began to separate the Eating Disorder from myself. To clearly see that the two are not one in the same. I’m not sure I ever fully understood that before. Intellectually maybe, but I didn’t truly understand.

I know that I am not fully recovered. I have discovered that in periods of extreme stress, the anxiety & ED are right there, waiting for me. That said, I understand now- ED is not my friend. My path to recovery has led me to this clarity. I finally understand what my therapist meant, because now I can more clearly see the road ahead.

I know that I still need to be cautious of triggers, take extra time & attention for self-care. I know I need to remain vigilant. But, I also know that for the first time, I can finally see the path ahead. For the first time, after years of searching, I can clearly see my way forward.

(*Note: This blog reflects my personal journey towards recovery only. Every person has their own story and their own experience. There is no right or wrong timeline for recovery, and everyone’s experience is very personal. The most important thing is to always remember there’s HOPE! Need help? NEDA helpline: 1-800-931-2237)

path

Anxiety, Recovery & Self-Care: A Reflection

Self-care is something that has always been very difficult for me. In fact, there have been times in my life when it felt as if self-care eluded me completely. As if I wasn’t capable, some sort of deficiency. As if there was something inherently wrong with me.

After years of work, I have come to a place where I genuinely want to love and take care of myself. And I’m learning. I’m learning what it means to truly care for myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

One of the biggest steps towards learning self care has been for me to truly understand what an enormous role anxiety plays in my life. I have had problems with anxiety quite literally since infancy. The doctors notes of my first few visits as an infant notating what an anxious baby I was, and giving my mother suggestions on how to comfort me.

Anxiety disorder is something I now realize has affected every area of my life, and certainly played a very large role in the development of my eating disorder.

I think perhaps only very recently, after nearly 15 years, have I truly accepted that I have an eating disorder. It’s getting easier for me to talk about with my therapist, and I’m starting to understand the steps that I can take towards recovery. Which brings me back to self care.

I’m sitting here, with an amazing cup of coffee, the sweetest puppy on earth snuggled contentedly on my lap, watching the snow drift gently down outside my window. I’m sitting here because I’m trying to calm my anxiety. The food laid out for a binge on my counter, I’m trying very hard to make a different choice. To teach myself another way. To understand that I can love myself enough to take this step towards recovery.

For so long, I wasn’t able to talk about my eating disorder. Even now, it’s difficult for me to share what’s really going on in that aspect of my life. Even my husband and my closest friends do not understand the full impact my eating disorder has had on my life.

For a long time in therapy, I had the desire to talk about the binging. However, I found myself quite literally unable to talk about it. As if there was something physically preventing the words from leaving my mouth. I’d never before had that experience. Perhaps the shame runs so deep, that I’d somehow blocked myself from ever uttering a word about it- not letting my shame see the light of day.

But I keep going back. And I keep pushing and I keep trying. And I’m writing about it today, and I’m trying to learn to share. I’ve started to be able to open up a little bit to my therapist. Most importantly perhaps, I’m starting to understand what recovery looks like.

I may not be ready to put my name to this blog, but I am ready to share, or rather, the idea of sharing no longer feels as terrifying. I hope that someone reading this will find the courage to speak up for themselves. I hope we can all learn to work through the shame, and find ourselves on the path of self-love and self-care.