What I Want Now Vs. What’s Best For Me

It’s been a long and busy week, full of stress and pressure. Not all of it external, some of it was self-inflicted. But here’s the thing. Most of it was at a healthy and reasonable level. When I think back to the stress, anxiety, and the pressure I felt to perform at all of my previous jobs, I notice the difference to how I’m experiencing these feelings now. I’m doing work I enjoy, and I’m my own boss. This makes such a huge difference.

I’ve also learned a surprising thing this week. I’m much more passionate about web and graphic design than I am about photography. I’m also so much more confident in myself in this field. There have been a couple of times where I surprised myself this week in doing something in record time, pulling off “the impossible”, or having just figured something out on my own. When that happened, I felt a gentle sense of pride in myself, and gave myself a pat on the back. With my photography I hardly ever felt proud of myself, just like a failure.

There were a couple of moments while working on my design projects where I felt so overwhelmed and just wanted to scream and bury my head under some pillows. But, instead of panicking, I got up, stepped away from what I was doing, took some deep breaths, and started speaking out loud to myself. Telling myself that I’m in control. The work doesn’t control me. The clients (or my dad) don’t control me. I am in control, and I don’t have to give my power away. These conversations with myself really helped a lot. I feel good about what I accomplished this week. Sure, I wish I didn’t get tired and overwhelmed so easily, but I do, and I need to accept that and be kind to myself. I need to know and respect my limits. Know when I need to push myself just a little bit more, and when to step back and take a break. I’m trying to learn how to balance things.

Since waking up this morning I’ve felt low on energy and depressed. There were a few things I wanted to get done on one of the websites I’m building, and starting feeling some pressure to do it. So I decided that I’m not going to work on anything today. I’m taking a break. I’m photographing a newborn tomorrow, and those sessions can last up to three hours, so I want to give myself some time off. I’ve worked hard and long hours this week, and I deserve a break.

All I want to do right now is stay in my room. I don’t want to do anything. Usually when I’m feeling low on energy I enjoy just reading, writing, and maybe watching a movie or episodes of a series I like. But with this depression, I don’t even feel like doing that.

Elizabeth and I have plans tonight. We’re meeting up with one of her friends who’s visiting South Africa from Europe, and one of his other friends. I’m not in the mood. Like I said, I just want to stay home. I know I can tell Elizabeth that I’m not coming, and stay at home instead, but I also know that would not be the best thing for me. If it were just tiredness, and I wanted some time to myself to “re-set” or refresh, I might have cancelled. But I know myself. If I stay here, the depression will just grow, I’ll get bored, and go down a very slippery slope. I just have to look at past experiences to see how good it had been for me to go out when I had felt this way, versus how I had felt when I had stayed at home in this current state I find myself in.

What I want right now, isn’t what’s best for me. Staying here won’t serve any good purpose. Sometimes we have to do what we don’t feel like doing, if we know it’s the best thing for us in the medium to long-term, and for our well-being. So I’m going out.

It might be just what I need.

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Left Out

I miss my therapist.

I feel this insane need for her right now. I’m not a part of her personal life, and while I’m usually fairly okay with that (well, at least resigned to the boundaries that exist in this relationship), today I’m not. Today it hurts like hell. I want to be where she is right now, or for her to be here. I just want to hold onto her and cry. I want to joke around with her. I want to see her smile. I want to hear her voice. I want to laugh with her. I just want her.

The most confusing thing is that I’m not even sure where this is coming from. There are so many other people it would be seen as “normal” for me to miss right now, yet for some reason, it’s her that my mind is focused on.

The worst part is that most people would think I’m fucked up for missing a therapist. They just can’t understand. The only person who ever really understood this, and gets it, was Jasmine. But she’s not around to talk to anymore. At least I can still share it here and not look like an idiot.

 

Imperfection

I’ve been a fan of Evanescence since their beginning days. As the years have gone by though, they haven’t been on my radar as much. I’ll always have a soft spot for Amy and her band, as their music got me through many dark days and nights. One of the highlights of my life was attending one of their live shows. That was a powerful moment for me.

Today I was searching for a song on YouTube by another band I really like, and I saw Evanescence’s new song “Imperfection” on the playlist. While it’s a different sound, it’s the lyrics and the message of the song that really drew me in. So I did a little background search on the song, and found this:

John Legend sang about perfect imperfections in his 2013 hit “All Of Me.” Amy Lee of Evanescence picks up that theme on this track, where she makes the case that our quirks and peculiarities are what make us whole. Unlike Legend’s love song, which is devoted to Chrissy Teigen, Lee is far more urgent, addressing those who are in despair:

Don’t you dare surrender
Don’t leave me here without you

Said Lee: “For me, this is the most important song on the album. I struggled with the lyrics for a long time because there was a lifetime of work to live up to and I wasn’t sure what to say or how to be good enough. When it finally started pouring out of me, it was undeniable. I had no choice. It’s for all the people we’ve lost, all the people who we could lose, to suicide and depression. I’m singing from the perspective of the person left behind, the person in the waiting room. It’s a plea to fight for your life, to stay. Don’t give into the fear – I have to tell myself that every day. Nobody is perfect. We are all imperfect, and it’s precisely those imperfections that make us who we are, and we have to embrace them because there’s so much beauty in those differences. Life is worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for.”

The song starts off slow and soft, but don’t let that fool you. It turns into a powerhouse.

I’m glad I came across this song today, as it’s a message I really needed to hear. I hope it speaks to you too.

 

And So It Ends…

Jasmine and I are done.

We had met up for coffee last Sunday. The first in months… Ever since Elizabeth and I started dating.

I thought things had gone quite well. We were even talking about my plans for my birthday next year, with her telling me she’d be there. After the meet up I sent her a text telling her that it was nice seeing her again, and asking how she had felt about it. I didn’t hear anything back from her until Wednesday/Thursday (can’t remember exactly) evening.

Her message was blunt and to the point. I’m not going to type the message out here (for anonymity’s sake), but she told me that we shouldn’t see or talk to one another again. I replied to her text, saying that I understand and will respect her decision, and wishing her good things for the future. But then I discovered that she had blocked me… my message didn’t go through. She had blocked me on Facebook as well. I get the whole “it’s over” thing, but am I a criminal that I needed to actually be blocked?

That’s when I felt it. “A slap in the face”, were the words used when Elizabeth was trying to help me give words to what I was experiencing/feeling in that moment. She was spot on with that one.

A slap in the face, followed almost instantly by that feeling of shock that numbs the pain of the sting. The rest of that evening I felt that sense of “what the hell just happened?”.

Waking up the next day, and even up until now, I feel nothing. The fondness and love I felt for her isn’t there anymore. The weirdest thing is that I can’t even remember anything about our time together (both as a couple, and then later as friends). I can’t seem to access the memories. There are no emotions. It’s as if she never even existed.

And this leads me to question whether I exist at all. Whether anything does.

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Group Spa Therapy

Group was lovely tonight. So different/weird-but-nice. It felt like a combination of time spent in a spa, and therapy. D, the OT, had lit candles in the room we were having the group in. There was even a light vanilla scented air freshener thing going on. Very romantic! We spoke about self-compassion, self-soothing, and the ACCEPTS DBT skill (Distress Tolerance). D passed around a variety of hand lotions, and showed us a hand massage video, which we had to follow along with, using whichever lotion we had chosen. Now do you get why I said it felt like I had spent time in a spa?

As usual, we ended off with a meditation/visualization, before we were sent on our merry way.

I’m linking to another video that D had shown us tonight as well. I found it so cute!

Now, I’m off to go roll myself up, and follow the video’s instructions.

On Making Decisions

I had a great therapy session on Thursday, and we uncovered one of the main causes of my low mood and overwhelmed state.

We’re currently working through another topic in therapy, but I’m glad we didn’t continue with that one this time, as Thursday’s one was more urgent. It started with my therapist asking me how I’m really doing, telling me that she had read my blog posts, and to tell her about them.

I had taken that Thursday off from work, and dedicated that day to self-care. There were moments of guilt, where I felt I should be working. But I managed to challenge that guilt, and replace it with validation that I deserve this time to myself.

I’ve been overwhelmed and moody lately, as a result of stretching myself too thin. I have so many balls up in the air, and I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could keep it up.

Sometime during the session I was hit with a realization. It was something my therapist said, and the questions she was asking that brought this up. It turns out that my wedding photography business isn’t something I want to continue in. It’s the cause of most of my stress and overwhelm. Yes, I’ve been busy with so many things, but those things aren’t having as big an impact on my state of mind as this business has.

We explored this in more detail. How do I feel when I think of continuing with this business? Overwhelm. Panic. How do I feel when I think of pulling out? Relief. But there’s also some fear involved. The biggest one being talking to my business partner about this. Telling her how I feel. That I don’t think this business is working out, at least not for me. That I don’t want to invest myself in it anymore. My therapist then asked me another question when I mentioned being too afraid to have this discussion with my partner. It was the same question she had asked me last year when I wanted to get out of my long-term relationship, but was too afraid to. It’s a powerful one. It goes something like this: Would you rather deal with the consequences that happen as a result of the decision to leave now, and move on from it, or stay in it for another 30-40 years and continue being miserable? The answer seems pretty straightforward right? Well, that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy.

It’s going to be hard to let go of this business. I invested so much time and energy (and money) into it already. And like I’ve mentioned before, it feels as though I’m responsible for the majority of the work. I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to. It’s not just this though. I don’t want to work with brides and everyone else who will be involved. I don’t want to have to deal with all the paperwork involved. I don’t want to deal with products that are included (or purchased separately) from the wedding packages. I love photography, but not weddings. It’s a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize just how much work goes into photographing weddings, and getting the images and products ready for the clients. I’ve shot two weddings already. After the first one, I told myself “never again”, but what did I do? I did another one, and once again said “never again”. So what the hell was I thinking opening a wedding photography business? I don’t even like weddings. Even when attending as a guest.

The thing about decisions is that just when you think you’ve made the best decision, other things come up that you hadn’t even thought about when making your original decision. And then the questioning starts: “Have I really thought this through enough?” “But what if…?” New fears may emerge as well, as they did in my case: “What if we close the business down just when we were about to make a breakthrough?”. I asked myself this question, and a big part of me feels like the money won’t be worth all the stress. But then another part of me questions that: “Are you sure it won’t be?” I went from absolute certainty that this is the right thing to do, to doubting my decision.

Writing all this, I’ve decided that I’m still going to stick to my decision about giving it up. Why? Because of that initial feeling. That first moment where I realized that I don’t want to do it anymore. The feeling of absolute relief. The kind of relief that brings tears to your eyes. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

And those moments when the fear is silent, I feel FREE.