Start Of A New (Business) Journey

This has been an incredibly long week. I feel like it should be the Friday two weeks from today. Wednesday was a public holiday here, and while I love these days, it also messes with my head. Yesterday felt like a Monday. Long week, holiday… Confusion. I haven’t been sleeping well at all, so that just adds to the length of my days.

Group started up again on Tuesday, which I’m so happy about. The weeks without it just aren’t the same. As one of the other ladies said, the group is like a safety blanket. I couldn’t agree more. Before the start of this weeks group I had a final session with the OT I’ve been seeing. Even though it ended well, and the time was right to end our regular sessions, I still feel a little lost.

Since then, I’ve been in that clingy, young place again with regards to my therapist. I just want her all the time. I only get to see her on Thursday again. It’s so long. There’s only one other person who I’ll feel comfortable being close to (and connect to), while in this head space. She doesn’t know though, and I don’t plan on telling her. Sometimes it’s better to just keep quiet, and avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

As those of you who regularly read my posts know, I’ve started a wedding photography business with another photographer. We received our business cards on Monday, and I finally completed the website on Tuesday morning. We couldn’t afford to get someone to design the cards and website, so I did it myself, even though that meant it took me a lot longer than if a professional had done it. But now it’s done and we’re officially “open for business”.

I enjoy our business meetings. We get together once a week. We spend more time laughing and messing around than actually getting things done. We always manage to do everything we had planned for that day’s meeting though. But instead of it taking us an hour, it takes us over two, and sometimes even three hours. But it’s worth it. I was disappointed that she didn’t wear her flashing shoes at our meeting yesterday. Apparently they were on charge.

The one part I don’t enjoy is the marketing. But at least I’m not doing it alone, which makes it seem more manageable. There’s a reason people study this stuff. Oh well, we’ll get there. It might take time, but the day we get our first wedding booking we’re going to go crazy!

And then I might just buy myself a pair of those flashing shoes.

Safe Travels – Part Two

You can read part one here.

The Sunday of that week, I was due to leave my mom’s place and drive almost two hours away, to the small town that I lived in with my ex-girlfriend (or fiance if you want to get technical) for almost 4 years. This place holds a lot of meaning for me. It was where I met my therapist. Little did I know that this therapist would help me find the courage to leave that toxic relationship that I should have ended three years earlier. But it would also mean that I’d have to leave her too. When she offered Skype sessions, I wanted to jump up and hug her (I was already attached by then). It was a really good call on her part. Thank you, therapist.

Sunday morning the four of us (me, my mom, her boyfriend, and my youngest sister) had planned to go for a quick morning outing before I left. When we got outside, my mom’s boyfriend’s car was gone! Stolen. My heart broke for him. He loved that car. He has such a good, kind heart, and goes above and beyond for people, and then shit like this happens. I was so pissed off! The car was ancient and falling apart, but he loved that car. I took him to the police station to give a statement, and when we got back, I thought of maybe just staying there again that evening, even though my B&B in my previous home town had already been booked and paid for. But my mom told me that there’s nothing I can do, so I should rather keep to my schedule. I knew she was right, but I was still hesitant to leave. The good news? A few hours after I got back to my mom’s place the next Tuesday, my uncle bought my mom’s boyfriend a new second-hand car! And this one was in great shape. He’s now made a plan to park this car in a safe and monitored place. It’s going to cost him every month, but it’s a small price to pay for security and piece of mind.

The drive to the town I was going to stay in for the next two nights went by so quickly. It’s usually such a boring drive of almost two hours, and seems to go on forever. But not this time. Even driving back to my mom’s place seemed to be over insanely quick, even though I was driving extra carefully (what with it being a rental car and all). Weird. Driving into the town felt like a kind of “coming home”. It was so nice seeing all those familiar places. The reason I went back there was to go pick up a box of my things that I had forgotten to take when my ex and I broke up. I also wanted to see my therapist in person again. A week before, I had asked my ex whether we could meet at a coffee shop and she could just bring the stuff, but she asked me to come to the house instead. I can’t remember the reason. I went straight to her house. I didn’t want to, because I knew I’d have to see the dogs. I didn’t want to see them ever again because I thought it would only break my heart. I didn’t know how I would feel seeing her again though.

When I got there, the dogs went crazy. They were barking and crying and jumping all over me. For the remainder of my stay, the baby sat on my lap, and the older one lay down against my leg on the couch. My ex hugged me when I got there, but I felt numb… The way I felt the whole time I was there. It was strange being there again. Everything looked different, yet the same. I don’t even know how that makes sense. The wall and frames that housed all our photo’s was still there. But all my pictures had been replaced. I was dissociating, but it’s exactly what I needed.

My ex made me coffee and we spoke a bit about life. A little while into the conversation, she asked whether I would be open to meeting her new girlfriend. I didn’t know how to answer that at first. But then she told me that she’s in the bedroom (I had no idea someone was even there), and wanted to meet me. So I agreed. The three of us spoke for a while. The two of them were very affectionate with one another during our conversation. I just remember thinking, “this is weird”. But I still wasn’t feeling any emotion. It’s as if all the feelings I logically knew were there, were lost in a deep, dark void. I told them that I need to check in at the B&B, so I’d better get going. They both hugged me goodbye, and my ex said “I thought this would be awkward, but it was actually pretty good”. Good to know.

The B&B was lovely. It was so peaceful there. My favourite part was the fountain, which was so soothing and relaxing. I can’t remember much from Sunday evening. All those feelings that I had shut down? They erupted the very next morning. The jealousy, the anger, the sadness. It just hurt. I was emotional the whole of Monday. I think the lack of sleep had also finally caught up to me. I had a session with my therapist later that afternoon, which was the highlight of my entire trip. But I’ll write more about that next time, as it deserves a post of its own, and ties in nicely with a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now.

On Monday evening I was in a very dark space. I didn’t want to be alive. But I wasn’t suicidal either. I think this place of being is worse than when I’m in the idealization or even the active “planning and preparing” suicidal state. Having a plan and preparing to act on it, brings a sense of peace, even with the intense pain, because you know it will all be over soon. But this weird in-between place is extremely frustrating. The kind of frustration that makes you want to peel your skin off, and scream. But as most of you know, I can’t scream out loud. That in itself is frustrating. I had been feeling suicidal that morning, and even during some of therapy, but it went away after that.

On Tuesday I overslept. So it was a mad rush to get ready and pack up in order to check out in time. That didn’t happen. I only managed to check out about 30 minutes after. Thankfully, the owner was very nice about it. I got myself a cup of coffee for the long drive ahead, and drove back to my mom’s place. I spent the night there, and this time my youngest sister wasn’t with us, so I slept a little better. I had to get up early in order to not miss my morning flight. The next morning, my mom’s boyfriend and I went to go get my car, which was parked a few streets away (the secure place). Since he didn’t have that new car yet at that point, we had to walk. Walking in that city at 06:30 in the morning is not wise. He wanted to go alone, but I didn’t want him to drive the rental car, so I went with him. We took our “weapons” with, and left all valuables at home. It was freezing, but I was warm by the time we got there. That was a fun little walk. I actually really enjoyed it. I felt so sad saying goodbye to my mom. I wish I could have taken her with me.

I had a few misadventures dropping the rental car off, and in the airport itself, but survived. Things that kept going wrong, and silly things I did (or didn’t do). I don’t know where my mind was that day. It up and left. The flight was really good again. Now I’m back home.

Up until Sunday morning, I had felt stuck in between two worlds. Like I wasn’t really here. But I wasn’t back there either. It’s a very confusing space to be in. It’s as if I needed to adapt to being back. But I don’t understand why that would be the case, because even when flying back from Sweden and Mauritius, I hadn’t had that experience. Maybe it has to do with having seen my ex again. Because since that Monday I’ve been dealing with a lot of feelings regarding her and the life we shared. Memories. Seeing her happy with someone else. Seeing how happy she is without me. I’m glad that she’s happy, I really am. But there’s also an element of pain inside.

It’s been so hard. And it still is. It feels like she’s haunting me. On Sunday afternoon I got a text from her, asking whether I was okay because it looked like I had lost a lot of weight since she last saw me (even my mom, aunt and sisters said the same thing- I hate it). I wanted to reply and say “so what, it’s not your concern anymore”, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to hurt her. She also apologized for “throwing *me* in with Girlfriend” and “but I know you still care, because you sucked it up. Thank you for being you”. I didn’t know what to say. She was being nice, and she apologized. So I forgave her for that little incident and thought it would be over now. So I just replied and told her that I’m glad she’s happy and has found love again. I wanted to close the book again with that final message. But then she just flung that door wide open. Telling me that she really believes this girl is “the one” (which she said about me as well), and that she hadn’t thought she could feel so much more for someone than she did for me. That “God” told her that this was the right girl. And for once in her life she felt sure about someone. My thoughts: “Well, did he also tell you not to throw things like that in your ex’s face?” There were smiley faces all over the messages. I had already been struggling after having seen her that Sunday, so these messages shattered me.

I’m feeling even worse than I did when I finally left the relationship early last year. I also keep seeing the last moment I saw her on that day. Our sad, last weekend together where we both knew what was coming, but tried to enjoy the remaining days together. She had broken up with me so many times in the last two years of our relationship, but the next day, she’d be all loving and sweet again, as if nothing had happened. It always confused me. Are we broken up? What’s happening? So I knew that if I didn’t end this relationship, we’d keep going around in circles.

I feel so abandoned by her. But I shouldn’t right? I’m the one who left her! But that’s the way I’m feeling, even if it doesn’t make logical sense. Maybe, without being consciously aware of it, I had held onto the sense of security that maybe I could go back if I wanted to. But seeing her again, so happy and content, ended that. She doesn’t need me anymore. All those times she was in pain and I held her. Those times where she was sick, and I looked after her. Now she has someone else to do that for her. To be there for her. That house that I’m so familiar with, now has someone else filling it with her presence. The dogs, one of them mine (but I didn’t want to split them up- and I couldn’t bring him with me anyway). “Someone else is sleeping in the bed that used to be mine. Doing everything that I used to do in my house”. Even though it was never mine. I had no idea I would feel this way. I go through so many different emotions. Back and forth.

I haven’t wanted to talk to anyone about this. About how I’m feeling. I feel this is something I need to deal with on my own. Like I always used to do. The difference this time is that I’m being gentle and compassionate with myself. A good blogger friend of mine recently wrote a beautiful post on empathy and validation. I really connected with it. Extending empathy and validation to ourselves. It’s easy to give that to others, but when it comes to myself, I treat myself really badly. So I’m trying to change that.

I keep reminding myself that it won’t hurt forever. That it’s going to fade again. But for now, I just need to deal with it as best I can, and be kind to myself.

My therapist asked me on Monday whether there was any unfinished business with my ex and I said no. But now? I don’t know what this is.

Safe Travels – Part One

On Wednesday I got back from my week-long trip to see my mom and sisters. Annoyingly, I’m still recuperating from it.

I had been looking forward to this trip since it was booked. I was counting down the days. Sometimes even the hours. Last Tuesday, after coming back from group, I started to feel unsettled. “Tomorrow is the day”. I don’t know why I had shifted into that almost panicked mode.

Packing for a vacation always overwhelms me for some reason. That Tuesday, it seemed even worse. I was so anxious, and even emotional. I cried through most of it. What was going on? I had no idea why I was feeling the way I was. In our session on Monday my therapist told me that she’ll let her other clients get away with “I don’t know”, but not me. Apparently I’m insightful. But sometimes I really don’t know. And this was one of those times. Maybe it will come to me at some point. That happens quite often, so maybe I can’t get away with “I don’t know” after all.

I hate airports. I despise them. Even more than I do crowded shopping malls (I try to go during the week when most people are at work). Those are places where I’m most likely to get panic attacks (lasting either from a few minutes to over 20 minutes sometimes). So, in preparation, I took one of my magic anxiety killing pills, and after that, I felt so much better. I had used some mindfulness and breathing exercises before taking it though, hoping that it would be enough. But it wasn’t. I lasted 20 minutes with that. But at least I tried. I got through the whole airport and flying thing pretty smoothly. I used to love flying. But when I got into a relationship with my ex, I started becoming as anxious and paranoid as she was every time we had to step foot on a plane. But this time, and alone, my old love of flying was back! My favourite part is the take off and landing. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush.

On my way from the airport to my mom’s place, I had to go pick up my youngest half-sister, who lives quite a while away from my mom. She was going to be spending a few days with us. I also popped in to see my eldest younger half-sister, who was at work, so I couldn’t spend much time with her. To me they’re just my sisters (there’s no half in there for me). By the time I got to my mom’s place, I was exhausted. As I walked through the door, my mom was busy with something. She looked up and saw me, and her eyes just lit up. She also seemed to do a double take, not sure whether I was real. I hugged her tighter than I ever had before. She looked so happy!

Throughout my stay there, I slept on a small blow up mattress, and my youngest sister slept on the couch. Sleeping in the same room with any one of my sisters is a crazy experience. My mom’s place only has one bedroom, so we slept in the lounge. I didn’t get much sleep while I was there. I struggle to sleep in a new environment, and add to that a young sister who doesn’t get the value of sleep. I’m a very light sleeper. After having her try to keep me awake as long as possible, I would finally go to sleep. But she’s so noisy, and every time she moved, the couch creaked way too loud, in my opinion. The curtains also couldn’t close, so it was too bright in there with all the street lights. Not a very good environment for inducing sleep. But I survived. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like waking up to peace and quiet in the mornings, while I drink my coffee. There was no chance of that happening here. Imagine being semi-asleep and having your mom and sister yelling at one another before you can even get your eyes open. Those two can’t be together for more than a day, or they’re at each other’s throats. They know exactly how to push one another’s buttons. Now here I was, stuck with this for four days. Burying my head under the pillow never sounded (and felt) so good.

A lot happened during the time with my mom. The unfortunate thing is that I barely got one moment alone with her. Both my mom and sister vying for my attention. I didn’t know which way to go. Which way is up? It was exhausting. My mom’s 23-year-old boyfriend (I called him daddy, that had him laughing for a while), was there in the evenings and the weekend, so we were never entirely alone. The only uninterrupted time my mom and I had was an hour before I went to bed on my last night there. I had taken my youngest sister home by that time. I adore my sisters, but the youngest one is a handful! We had our own “salon day” at my mom’s place though. She coloured and styled my hair, and we even played around with make-up. That was a nice bonding experience.

It was a busy week. Driving back and forth to go see my eldest younger sister, and a bunch of other outings that made me so sick of driving. But I don’t see my family every day, and it was nice to be able to do those things for, and with, them, so it was worth it. I struggled a lot that week with disconnection though. I “felt” numb quite often.

On the Saturday evening, we went out for dinner with my aunt (my mother’s sister) and uncle. He’s Greek, she’s Portuguese. They’re constantly fighting, and it’s fascinating (and extremely funny) listening to them, as they switch between English and each of their languages! It makes my head spin just thinking about it. It’s always fun spending time with them though. Oh, and they took me to a bookstore, and bought me two new books! I’m obsessed with books. I got “Into the Heart of Mindfulness” and “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion”. The first one was recommended to me by my former OT, so when I saw it I just knew I had to get it.

My mom was emotional and cried a lot during my stay. Sometimes over small things (sound familiar?). As far as I can remember, I’ve only seen her cry twice in my life. And now suddenly it’s almost a daily thing. Apparently it’s been like this for months already, so I’m worried about her. I wanted to hug or hold her during those times, but it’s like there’s an invisible wall between us, and I can’t get myself to do that. The most I could do was put my hand on her shoulder or back for a few seconds, and even that felt awkward. I can’t remember her ever holding me either. Of course hugging her hello and goodbye is easy. But other than those times, that’s not the case. It’s still a great source of sadness for me. I don’t know why it’s so hard with her, when I find it so easy to be that shoulder when someone else needs it, including my sisters.

I still have more to write about this trip, but I’ll rather split it up into two parts. I don’t want to write anymore tonight. Writing has been hard for me lately. Wanting to write, but not able to start. An internal battle of sorts. But now it seems like I’ve broken through that wall.

Adult Children

I had another great night’s rest. I’m constantly tired (the story of my life), but for most of the day, much less than usual. Wow, I really needed all the sleep I’ve been getting. So I was in a good, healthy mood this morning. I had a few not so good moments, but they were bearable.

After work I met up with my business partner (let’s call her Kim) and Jasmine (who helps us with our marketing) to take some photo’s of ourselves for our new website and Facebook page. We had such an amazing time. Kim took photo’s of me, I of her, and Jasmine took some of the two of us together. I set my camera to auto mode for her, and gave her a quick tutorial on how to work it, as well as some composition tips. She took some good shots, and seemed to be having fun. She was just snapping away, even when Kim and I were fooling around in between our “professional mode”. We were running around, semi-climbing the trees. Just being big children. I felt happy. I was having fun, and it felt so damn good. I’m at my happiest when playing with children. My inner child feels free during those moments. I connect better with children than I do adults. I’m that person who you’ll see running around with the kids at an event or party, instead of sitting at the “adult’s table”. Kim, who is young at heart, is also a real adult child. I tell her that all the time, and she loves hearing it!

She’s 58, which I found out today! There’s no way! I thought she was 50! She’s one of those happy, full of energy, extroverted, and confident people. I always enjoy spending time with her and Jasmine. Even when we have our meetings over a cup of coffee, we have fun. It’s laid back and easy. Jokes abound. I’ll give you an example of what a character she is. She has these white sneakers that flash different colours when she walks. She wears them often, even in crowded shopping malls, restaurants, etc. She certainly draws attention. The first time she wore them when we went for dinner, I freaked out when I saw them. But she made it seem cool! Seriously! The next time we went for lunch and she was wearing those shoes, one of them stopped flashing (apparently it was flat- shoes going flat? Who knew). When we got to the restaurant, I asked the waitress whether they have a charger lying around so my friend could charge her shoe. Jasmine went bright red. But Kim and I (and the waitress of course) just laughed. Now that’s the effect Kim has on me. When I’m around her, I feel confident and couldn’t care less about what people think. Her energy is contagious. After a couple of hours with her, I’m left feeling happy, but exhausted.

I’m coming off that high now. I don’t have any of the strong feel good emotions I had earlier, but I’m not feeling bad either. Just tired.

It was a good day, and I’m so grateful for that.

Excitement, And The Power Of A Hug

I was just going to write about something really great that happened on Monday, but there’s something else that happened last night that I want to share as well. So this post might also be a long one.

After a year and four months, it’s finally happening. I’m going to see my mom and little sisters again!

My mom sent me a text on Monday morning, saying “I wonder when I’m going to see Rayne again”, with a GIF of a monkey scratching his head. That was really cute and funny. I showed it to my step-mom as well. I often share these kinds of things with them and vice versa. I sent that same GIF back to her saying “I’m wondering the same thing.” A few hours later I was surprised with a flight ticket and rental car! My dad, with nudging from my step-mom (whose idea it was- bless her heart), decided to use their reward points to get me that ticket. They had so many points that they didn’t have a pay a cent for it. That’s pretty cool. I was so happy, and the gratitude I felt, almost made me burst into tears. I also felt this great sense of relief. I’m just not sure what the relief is about.

It’s my mom’s birthday today, and she hates her birthday. My flight is for next week Wednesday. I wanted to tell her on Monday already, but thought today would be a better time to do it. So I video called her this morning, and told her that I have a special gift for her this year. My youngest little sister was with my mom at the time, so she was also in on the call. When I told them that I’m coming next week, they both started screaming. Seeing their faces, oh my heart. I’ll never forget that moment.

And guess what? I’m also going to see my therapist in person again! I can’t wait! Although I’m also a little nervous for some reason.

I went to group last night, and really enjoyed it. D was leading it. Before group, while we were in the coffee shop, one of the guys came around to the table I was sitting at with some of the girls. He kissed one of them on the cheek, and attempted to do the same with me. I told him “no” and pulled my face away. He laughed and tried again, but not coming too close this time. Like in a playful manner. But I stuck to my boundaries and didn’t give in, like I would have in the past. Too afraid of offending the person. One of the girls told him that I don’t like it when guys touch me. I was surprised when she said that, because I didn’t know that she “got it”. I told him I’d give him a hug instead. Afterward he said “but you touched me” and I told him that it’s because I initiated it, and therefore I was more comfortable with it.

I’m becoming more comfortable with talking and sharing during the group. That’s progress. This group is so good and valuable for me. After I was done talking and sharing last night, my inner critic showed up. I didn’t quite articulate myself very well. I stumbled a little over my thoughts and words, but not in a very obvious way. Some things came out in ways that I didn’t intend, and were incomplete. But I told that critic to shut up. The important thing is that I’m trying. This is all new to me, so of course I’m going to struggle a bit at first. It’s like a baby taking her first steps. She’s going to be awkward at first. She’s going to struggle and stumble. But she doesn’t give up, she keeps getting back up and trying again. Eventually she’s walking with ease. I’ll get there too.

We were talking about values yesterday, which is part of Interpersonal Effectiveness in DBT. We did a fun activity. But at some point during that activity I started feeling this depression sink in. When the activity was over and we started going through the skill, I started to feel worse. I still struggle with values. With knowing who I want to be. Who I really am. And the shame that had died down a little since Monday, hit me full force again. Suddenly everyone and everything around me started to feel unreal. And then the suicidal thoughts kicked in. I felt like nothing matters. What’s the point of life? Then the thought (judgement) that “there’s no reason for me to be feeling the way I am right now. Good things are happening. I have things to look forward to. I’m not supposed to be feeling depressed and suicidal. What the hell is wrong with me?” There were a few times that I felt tears well up, but tried to focus on what was going on in the group. There was a point when I couldn’t hold back that much, but I just hid my face and pretended to be looking at the worksheet I had in front of me. I may be more comfortable with talking and sharing, but I’m not at the point yet where I’m comfortable showing my emotions in front of more than one person.

I’m still going to be able to attend group next week, but will miss the next one, which is the last one for two weeks. D didn’t know whether she was going to be doing the group next week, or one of the other OT’s. So after group I asked her whether I could give her a hug in case I don’t see her for the next month or possibly longer. What started as a hug from me to her, a thank you for all she does and for the group last night, turned into her giving me a precious gift. And she doesn’t even know it.

I hugged her, and as I was starting to pull away, she held onto me and hugged me even tighter. I always pull away pretty quickly, and when I let go the other person also does. But she didn’t. And I’m so grateful, because it was what I needed. It felt warm, caring, and comforting. My whole body relaxed, and my mind just went quiet. I felt a deeper level of trust toward her, and sense of safety. It’s the quickest that suicidal and hopeless thoughts went away. It usually lasts at least a few hours, days, and sometimes even weeks. And it’s still gone.

On my way home, I cried all the way. I felt connected to the younger versions of myself. I experienced the pain of not having had the love and comfort I so desperately wanted and needed all those years. At how one deep hug could have such a big effect on me.

I feel like writing her an email and telling her about this, but not sure if I should. What do you guys think?

I wrote this in my personal journal last week, without intending to share it with anyone. But now it just feels right to do it. Strange how things work sometimes.

Letter To No One And Everyone

I need you to dig, to find those parts of me that even I can’t find.
I need you to help me see if there’s treasure hidden somewhere inside me.

Please sit beside me. Not a world away. Distance plays tricks on my mind.
Please see inside me. I can’t see me. But maybe you can.
Please hold my hand. Don’t pull away even when I initially try to.
Please hold me. If I try to pull away, don’t let go. Hold onto me.
Please be gentle with me. I’m tough, but also very fragile.

Can you feel the pain behind these words?
Can you see the tears that are falling as I’m writing this?
Can you hear my silent screams for comfort?

You may touch my heart.
But how can I trust that when I can’t feel the warmth of your touch?

That gentle touch that unlocks the door to my soul.
That healing touch that fills me with the strength I need to fight another day. That touch I ache for.
That can help break the bonds of harm that were created a long time ago.

A touch that heals, not destroys.
A dream… Unrealistic.
A voice deep inside whispers, “you don’t deserve it”.

D made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I do deserve it.

That’s the power of a hug.

The Voice Of Shame

*Another trigger warning post, with references to drugs and alcohol)*

Since that Tuesday of the “group disaster” (dramatic, I know), I’ve been struggling with that horrible emotion called “shame”. It’s been hanging around me since then. Not from the group event anymore, but in general. This feeling of being fundamentally flawed. Feeling dirty and ashamed of myself. Of my actions and behaviour both past and present.

I don’t know why I’m struggling with this so much lately. Probably just like everyone else, throughout my life, I’d have these moments. It would never last more than a few hours. But now it’s a constant. Like a demon that just won’t let me go. I either try to push it away (which we all know by now doesn’t work), distract myself, and try to focus (and be mindful) on other things, or allow myself to experience it in its entirety. But I don’t last long with that one. It’s too hard to sit with it for more than a few minutes.

If there is such a thing as “meant to be” or “not meant to be”, then what if that Tuesday was supposed to happen the way it did? That it was a catalyst for change and healing? What if it’s time now to start dealing with all the shame, and that’s why it’s coming out so strong lately and seems to be the most dominant emotion over the past two weeks? I don’t know. All I know is that it’s fucking hard, and I don’t want to deal with this.

On Thursday I was supposed to have a session with my OT. I was only supposed to have a session next week Tuesday, but I asked her whether we could have one this week as well, which she was more than willing to do. On Thursday afternoon she let me know that we’d have to cancel the session. She had to go to the doctor, which to me, is a valid reason, so I was okay with it. Later that day I sent her an email asking if it would be okay if I give her a call, if she was up to it. I would have just called and not asked whether I could, which is what I’ve done before, but I didn’t want to bother her that day as I didn’t know how she was feeling. After I sent that email, I felt this tremendous shame hit me. How could I be so selfish? We had to cancel our session, but here I was asking if I could call her because I needed someone to speak to. What kind of person am I? I could have called D, who I also trust, but I didn’t want to bother her either. So it’s even these kinds of simple things throughout these few weeks that have been adding to the fire of shame.

Along with this, I’ve been having a lot of dreams as well. Some of them are just random dreams, but then there are those that have actual memories attached. There’s even been a few things that I haven’t remembered in years. My subconscious is bombarding me. Reminding me of things that I’d rather not remember.

This morning, while still in my half asleep state (it takes me an hour to fully wake up- sometimes even two) I made myself coffee, like I do first thing every morning. But today, I added a couple of tots of liqueur to it. I didn’t even notice that until I took that first sip of my coffee. I don’t even really drink alcohol anymore. A few weeks ago, after work, I poured myself a glass of wine. I took 3 sips and poured the rest down the drain. At Jasmine’s birthday dinner, I had one Cosmopolitan (which I enjoyed- I love cocktails), and while everyone else continued their alcohol binge, I switched to milkshake. It’s also me trying to be more responsible. At our business meeting yesterday, Jasmine and my business partner had a beer, while I had coffee. But this morning, instead of making a new cup of coffee, I thought, “I’ve already made it, so I might as well drink it, or I’ll just be wasting.” The sunk cost effect in action.

While sitting outside drinking this cup of coffee, a feeling of comfort washed over me. It was a familiar comfort. And then I remembered. It was that same feeling I had when I was 20, and had started drinking heavily. When I would wake up in the morning and reach for a bottle of wine or any other alcoholic beverage I could find. It would make me feel ready for the day (or night). That I could get through it. It was soothing for me. I worked shifts, either from 5pm to 5am or 5am to 5pm. Long hours, but this job was a very different kind of job. I could even drink at work. It was actually a requirement. It was where I started smoking, drinking, and experimenting with drugs. It was also where I first fell in love. All of this became my norm. Memories, triggers, all gone. It was like I was a new, separate person. It felt like I was in a bubble, and nothing else but the job, alcohol, people and drugs existed. Even when I was at home, I was numb. Like I didn’t have a soul. I was lost. I was a mess.

At some point during this time, I had a somewhat confusing experience. A few of us from work went to someone’s house (who went away on vacation, I think). I remember us going into the main bedroom, which had a TV and huge bed. I can’t even remember the names of the people I was there with. When we left that house, and it was time to go home, I found out that we had been there for almost an entire week! It was supposed to only be a day. How could so much time have gone by without me even being aware of it? I barely remember that week, but there are a few foggy recollections. And all of those recollections are of us all in the bedroom, sitting on the bed and the floor. There’s one moment that I remember clearly though. I was feeling the effects of the drug/s wearing off… A horrible, frightening feeling, and asking for more.

I also vaguely remember someone coming to deliver pizza, and one of the guys whispering to us to keep quiet so that we didn’t get caught. I’m not sure what exactly he was worrying we’d get caught for… I have this vague memory that we weren’t supposed to be in that house… But I don’t know for sure. I can’t remember any other part of the house, except for that bedroom and the front door. Had we been in the bedroom all this time? I’m still confused about this whole experience, and what exactly happened. Maybe it’s better that I don’t know.

This part of my life went on for a few months, before I made a clean break (and had my heart broken). I was still drinking a lot, and became friends with a very bad influence. I can’t even remember how we met. A lot of things are a blur. We got up to a lot of shit. By this point I had another job (I have no recollection of the time between leaving that job and this new one), an actual “real” job, and we’d go out nearly every night. Sometimes I’d come home at 5am and have to wake up at 6:30am to go to work. I have no idea how I survived this period of my life. Those early few years of my 20’s. But somehow, I did.

My therapist knows about this. She’s the first person I’ve ever told, and she knows the details that I’ve omitted. I told her about it in the last in-person session we had before I moved to my current city. When I first told her about this, and how much I hate myself for it, the shame that I feel, she told me “you did what you had to to survive.” Those words have repeated in my mind a few times today. It doesn’t take the past away. It doesn’t excuse anything I did. But it helps me feel a little bit of self compassion, even though it’s short-lived. But I’ll take what I can get.

I’ve never given much thought to that time, and thought that it hadn’t affected me all that much. But it did. It has. I’ve realized that it’s shown itself in subtle ways through the years. This time in my life is weighing heavily on me today. And the shame is so strong. So much so, that I’ve been nauseous the whole day.

Another reason why I feel so ashamed about those years, is because I was always the “good girl”. And then overnight, I went from being the “good girl” to this stranger that I didn’t recognize. The worst part is that I had come straight from Bible College (back in the days when I was still a believer). I was a “good girl” before then, because I was so well-behaved and didn’t act out like most teenagers do. But the only reason for that was because I was so terrified of my dad, that I never did anything he wouldn’t approve of. I was always paranoid that he would find out when I did something to “embarrass him”. So I was the “perfect” teenager. He was very protective (his words- mine is “controlling”), so I wasn’t allowed to go to any parties with my friends. If I went to a friend’s place, he made sure the parents would be there so that I didn’t do anything wrong. Most of the time I had to have my friends over at my place instead. I had to wear only that which him and my first step-mom approved of and bought me. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or even nail polish. I couldn’t change my hairstyle or colour. I wasn’t my own person.

The two years before college, were filled with horrible events. My first step-mom and step-sister left, taking an entire step-family along with them. I lost two of my grandfathers and my grandmother (who was my most significant attachment), to cancer. My dad’s suicide attempts followed. I internalized all of it. I focused on taking care of my dad, and was closed off to myself. Then during my college year, my friend ended his life.

I guess all of that eventually caught up with me, and I fell apart. I didn’t know how to deal with it. And so began my years of trying to survive everything, while trying to forget it all. Growing up, I did what I had to in order to survive. I hid, I dissociated, and did a lot of daydreaming. I was basically a ghost. But now I don’t need to “just survive” anymore. Now’s my chance to really live.

But I’m ashamed of who I am. Of who I was. Of who I’ve become. Do I even deserve to live and have a good life?

I’ve realized that my social anxiety isn’t just about the possibility of rejection. That’s just a small part of it. The major part is the shame that I’ve been carrying. Shame over who I am. Over what people see when they look at me. Will they be able to see through all the bullshit? Can they see my “bad”?

Oh, and I threw that coffee out, and made myself a fresh cup. I don’t want to go down that road ever again.

I didn’t mean for this post to be so long. But I think it’s good that I got all of this out. Some of you might not want anything to do with me after this, but I’m feeling so crap at the moment that the thought doesn’t really even bother me.

“As much as I’d like the past not to exist, it still does.”

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Time Out: Good For The Soul

Waking up yesterday, I felt so much better than I had in weeks. I’m still a little low, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it has been. The best part is that I feel refreshed.

I took the week for myself. No social engagements (except for group), disconnected from social networks, and stayed off WhatsApp for a few days. I would get home from work (took Wednesday off), then the rest of the day I would spend reading, writing, watching my favourite TV shows, and just daydreaming (my meditation). I also spent about an hour with my other therapist… The beach and ocean.

Isolating myself for a while has paid off. These times aren’t about anyone else. It’s my “selfish time”. I do it because it’s what I need in order to recharge. To take care of myself and keep myself safe (and sane). Those people who say that I need to force myself to get out there and do things, don’t know anything about how my internal world functions. If I force myself, and follow that advice, it’s like adding fuel to the already blazing fire inside me. People drain me. Being out in the world with people all over the place, is exhausting. There’s just too much stimuli out there, and I think that feeds into my hyper-vigilance. So instead of adding even more stress to my body, I choose to stay in the comfort of my room (and one day, my own place). I don’t mind having a friend over for coffee during these times, but I won’t go to a coffee shop or any other public place.

When I can afford it, I’m going to invest in a tent. Whenever I feel like I need to get away and be alone, I’ll go camping. Spend time in nature, and enjoy the silence.

Obviously, I’m an introvert. Most of the introverts I know, can recharge after a day or two. But I take longer. It sometimes takes me a week or more. I accept this part of me now, whereas before I’d just beat myself up over it.

One of the OT’s shared this quote with me, and it’s one of my favourites.

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