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.

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Self-Doubt and Insecurity

On Monday night I was gripped by an ice-cold feeling of fear.

There was a thought:
“What if Elizabeth’s feelings toward me have changed?”

At the time I couldn’t put my finger on where that thought, and the resulting fear, had come from. I only became aware of the cause once I had calmed down somewhat. I say “calmed down” because that fear had turned into panic, and I had to put all my available resources into action in order to prevent a full-blown panic attack.

Elizabeth had let me know that she was going to go watch a show with one of her best friends. I had just come back Monday morning from having spent the weekend with her. Just as an aside, I have no problem with her having her own friends and activities away from me. I like that she does. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to be one person’s everything again. It’s exhausting.

It wasn’t the fact that Elizabeth was going out with someone else that upset me. When she told me, I reacted (and felt) the same way I always do, “that sounds nice, enjoy!”. It was only a while afterward that I started feeling the fear. But why? For some reason my mind fed me the lie that I’m not worth spending time with. I wasn’t thinking about it in the way of Elizabeth, but rather my own friends. I was also reminded about Jasmine, and the fact that we’re not in contact anymore. That made the fear stronger, and for some reason I got it into my head that maybe Elizabeth’s feelings toward me have changed as well.

I also had this overwhelming need to contact Elizabeth right then and there. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I’m not enough”. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I’m too much”. I felt panic rise up in my chest. An urgency to do everything I can to have her stay with me, and not leave me. It felt as though she were standing right in front of me, breaking up with me. This feeling was so intense, so painful, that my thoughts turned to self-harm again, which is something I haven’t done in a while. It was a fight to resist, and required a lot of different coping skills.

My mind was in utter chaos. My thoughts turned to how useless and worthless I am, with “proof” of this “fact” at every turn. This had been coming on the entire day, and I had now reached the tipping point.

The wedding photography business I had started with my business partner isn’t really going anywhere. The photography industry in general is so populated. These days anyone with a D-SLR thinks they’re automatically a professional photographer, and advertises as such. How do you compete with those offering their services for next to nothing, in an economy that’s struggling as it is? It’s so fucking frustrating! I feel like a failure in the photography industry. That I’m just not a good enough photographer, and that’s maybe why we aren’t getting any business.

A couple of weeks ago I got a request from someone to design and print her cards for her new business. I jumped at the chance. That job gave me the idea to start my own website and graphic design business. I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and making websites since my family got our first computer when I was in high school, so I’ve had a lot of practice. I always did these things for family and friends, and I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of turning it into a business before. Better late than never though. A few days after making the decision to start this new business, I overheard a contractor who does work for my dad’s business, wants to have a website made for himself. I managed to get him to hire me. So this new business has started off well. I’ve also secured the job to make the website for the lady I did the business cards for. But she wants to wait until the new year.

While working on my own new business website, and doing all the other setting up tasks, I’ve also been doing two online courses in Photoshop (Diploma) and Digital Marketing. So I’ve been busy. I’m building my knowledge and getting a qualification under my belt, so I should be feeling empowered right? Instead, I still feel like I’m not good enough. That I’m a failure. So much self-doubt and insecurity was plaguing me on Monday, that I guess by that evening, it all just came to a head.

By the time Elizabeth let me know that she was back home after the night out with her friend, I had calmed down a little. The insecurity was still there, but it had dulled somewhat. The most amazing thing happened then. She sent me a voice note letting me know that she had wished I could have come with. That she misses me. That she loves me. I hadn’t sent her that message I had been aching to. So she had no idea how I was feeling. Her words were made even more powerful because of this. All the insecurity I had regarding myself in this relationship, and the relationship itself, just vanished. I hate that these things happen. That I suspect abandonment where none actually exists. That I need regular reassurance that I’m still wanted, important, and loved.

Today, even though I’m still struggling with some feelings of self-doubt, I’m able to meet myself with more compassion. I’m working hard. I’m trying to create a better life (and future) for myself. That must count for a lot, right?

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.