Uncertainty

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Things have been very unsettling for me lately. I feel like I’m in limbo. And lost in a place I don’t quite understand. My therapist is going on leave tomorrow (I think), so I’ll only see her again in two and half weeks time. We had a session today, but I miss her already. These therapy breaks are always hard for me, but even more so when I’m not doing too well.

That job that I was so happy about took a turn. The guy who hired me went and hired a new brand manager, and since she came on board, things have been different. It took weeks for me to understand what was happening. Their communications with me were confusing and I wasn’t sure what exactly they were wanting me to do, or expecting from me. This brand manager lady uses terms and speaks in a very professional and “higher class” language (in my personal opinion) and confuses me like hell. At least on Monday I finally got an answer from her that made sense. My services are on hold until they’ve sorted the branding out. What makes me angry is that I could have done the branding if my “boss” had just asked me or told me what he wants to do, instead of hiring someone else to do it. The email he sent me a while back that first started my confusion once she was in (I think it was then if I’m remembering correctly) was that my fees were too high. That pissed me off because it hadn’t been a problem for him before (and I was even angrier that he copied her into the email, when I feel financial matters should be between him and me). And, what he was paying me was a fraction of what he would have paid had he gone to an agency. I don’t feel like I want to work for him anymore, like my trust has been broken, but I don’t have other options at the moment so if he still wants me to help him once they’re ready I have to do it. I think I’m more upset over how things have changed with my “relationship” with him. I felt like we sort of understood one another, but now I see I was delusional or reaching or something. But all of this has just reminded me that being a freelancer and having your own business is hard. It’s the way it goes.

My dad recently told me that they’re trying to sell the business, and once that’s done they’ll be relocating to Sweden. A country I love and have been wanting to move to since I first went there years ago. But for the past few years that desire faded. I like the place I live in. I know they’re moving, and obviously if they do I won’t be able to go with, but they mentioned that once they’re settled that side I can come over if I want. If they had told me this years ago I would have been ecstatic. Now? I’m confused. I don’t know what I want anymore. Also, I’m still living with M, and I always knew there was a place to go back to if something has to happen to her, or I want to move back to my dad’s place. But then my uncle moved back in with them and he’s taken over my room there, and with the parents wanting to move away as soon as they can, that’s not an option anymore. And a panicked part of me has been wanting to move back in. My therapist asked me whether it’s because I really want to live with my family again, or because I feel that option isn’t there anymore. That was a really good question and made me realize that it’s the latter. I still have half my stuff still there, and my dad wants me to come the weekend and start packing my stuff into boxes. They have already been giving away and selling things that they don’t need and will never use. They won’t be moving to Sweden immediately, but have to move to a smaller place for a few months before they leave.

All of this and a few other “little” things is wreaking havoc on my brain and emotions. Uncertainty, that right there, is a bitch.

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Is This Who I Am Now?

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Since the post I wrote on meeting up with Elizabeth again earlier this year, I’ve seen her a few more times. We always end up staying together for hours. But I’ve realized something. I don’t have feelings for her at all anymore. The times we meet up, I’ve initiated it. It’s on my terms. We exchange voice notes often, but it sometimes takes me days to reply. Just because I don’t feel the desire to talk to her. Well, it’s not just her… I’ve become terrible at replying to my messages from anyone.

I’ve been going through a challenging period in my life the past couple of weeks and I’m not sure about anything anymore. I had a therapy session today and when my therapist asked what had suddenly made me emotional at some point, I wasn’t really sure how to answer that. Because I’m not sure myself. I did mention some stuff, but I couldn’t seem to find all the words for everything that was going through my mind and to verbally express how I was feeling.

One of those things is about Elizabeth. I feel like I’m just using her. I never thought I’d be one of those people. But here I am. And I don’t even feel guilty about it, like I would have in the past. I call her when I get lonely. Not because I want to see her, but because I want to experience that intimacy she provides when we’re together. When we’re sitting having drinks and she has her arm around me, or holds my hand. There are no feelings involved, other than the physical sensations of her soft skin, the warmth of that. Relishing in that. But no emotional feelings. I feel emotionally empty. Especially with regards to her. I don’t trust her either. We discuss how we’re both enjoying being single, but intimacy is missed sometimes. Even though neither one of us wants to be in a relationship at this point in time, I find our moments together satisfying. But once we part ways, I’m glad to be without her again.

The evenings never go further than that. Although she slept over at my place on Sunday evening, it was more a case of convenience. We slept in separate rooms. I have no interest in sexual intimacy with her. Not with anyone. In that, I feel broken. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to share those parts of my story.

I feel like I’ll never be able to love anyone again, not in the romantic sense of the word at least. I’m feeling disconnected from life. From myself. From love in general. And I’m not sure how to break through this glass wall. I see those people I care about through it, but I can’t reach them. They, along with my more “human” emotions, are out of reach most of the time these days. That little crack in the glass during my session was quickly mended and now I’m just empty again.

The Next Right Thing

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“I’m trusting that it’s okay to just keep doing the next right thing – even when the long-term plan isn’t quite clear. Enough right things will get me where I need to go.”

– Brené Brown

I didn’t know where my life was going. It all seemed so pointless and hopeless. I actually still experience this often, but lately I’m just allowing things to unfold as they do and dealing with what I can in each moment. Acceptance is often hard to achieve, but fighting against things we have no control over just exhausts us. Acceptance allows us to breathe, explore, and plan.

We don’t know the future. All we can do is keep taking the next best step, whatever that may be. I have to ask myself, “what’s the next right action for you?” It’s not about what other people say I should do. People can give us their opinions but they’re not living our lives. We are.

Circumstances Can Change

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Sometimes it feels as though things will never change. But life is a constant state of change. Nothing stays the same. It may for a while, and this while may feel like forever, but there’s no escaping the fact that at some point in time change will come.

This is where I currently find myself. A couple of months ago I was still living with my dad, working for him and getting paid peanuts, and working on my business with no real prospects. Life seemed pointless. Hopeless. I felt stuck. I’ve actually been in this “stuck” place for years, and didn’t see it ending anytime soon.

But then I moved in with my older friend M, and things started changing for me. In December I had met a potential client (in a restaurant where I was talking to a friend and he overheard me talking about my business), and he told me that he was looking for a freelance graphic designer and social media manager. He gave me his details and asked me to contact him in February, which I did. I started working with him beginning April, and it’s been great. It’s a lot of work, but it’s work I enjoy, and he’s a wonderful client. Easy to talk to, open and transparent, and most importantly, quick to respond and get information from. We have a 3 month contract for now, but he told me that he wants to make it more permanent. We had our first end of month progress/update meeting and he’s very happy with my work, so it’s all looking very promising.

As regular readers of my blog know, I found it very stressful and frustrating working for my dad. Just being around him and my step-mom in the office affects me negatively. Add in all the other things going on in the shop and it’s just too much for me. With this new client, I get 3x my salary, so I’m much better off. Their business is still struggling, so that, along with this new job, made me decide to give my week’s notice. They can save the money they pay me every month (at least for the next two months), and I’m free to focus on my own business. I’m far more productive and relaxed working from home. I also have two more potential website design clients, so that will be additional income if all goes well.

I thought I’d never “escape” my dad, but now I only see him if and when I want to. I actually feel like an adult. Free. Staying with M is really great and we get along perfectly. She’s become a real mother figure to me and I’m learning a lot from her. Therapy is also going well, especially now that we’ve switched from weekly 30-minute sessions to 1-hour sessions. My therapist pointed out that I wasn’t doing so well with 30-minute sessions. When I had my sessions at her office in the clinic we’d often run well over, but when we switched to her other location a couple of months ago, time was more limited. And that’s when it became obvious that I was struggling with only 30 minutes. So now we’re on weekly 1-hour sessions and things feel more settled. We’ve also gone back to having it at the clinic as the way there is less stressful and overwhelming for me. My stress and anxiety levels have decreased and my mood has been better overall.

So, a lot has changed in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’m still adjusting to all the changes, and certain things are still overwhelming and anxiety-provoking, but it’s slowly getting better. At the beginning of this year I never imagined I would be here. That life would look different. But it does, and I’m so grateful. To M, for taking me in and showing me that I am worthy of life and love. To my therapist, for always having my best interests at heart and for all that she does to help me.

Circumstances can change. It’s so easy for those of us who are so used to constant disappointment to wonder when things will blow up again, waiting for the other shoe to drop (this saying doesn’t make much sense, but I’m using it anyway), but I’m determined to just embrace how things are in the here and now. Because right now, I’m happy.

Change, Life, Work

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I want to start blogging more regularly again. I’ve been going through some lengthy sort of phase where I think that my blog has become boring (for others) and I feel kind of narcissistic writing about myself all the time. Why I feel that way now, and why it didn’t bother me all that much before, I don’t know. But writing here has been so helpful to me in the past and I want to have that back, so I should at least try again.

I’ve been staying with M for the past week, and it’s been good for me I think. That intense hopelessness that’s been hanging around for so long has somewhat lifted. It only shows up for a few minutes before disappearing, which is a welcome relief from the persistent version. I haven’t quite got my new routine right (my working hours have also changed) which causes anxiety, but I’m getting there. Once again I’ve realized how strongly change affects me. Even good change. That’s where well-established systems and rituals that are time and place independent really help to make things a little easier.

This has been a busy and overwhelming week work wise. So it was a huge relief on Friday evening when I could finally cross that difficult client off my list. He settled the final payment, job done. Another positive, I had a meeting with a potential client on Monday and received the go ahead and deposit on Friday. So even though it’s been stressful and there were lots of crap moments, over all it’s been a good week.

I’m going to be staying with M for a while, just not sure exactly how long. She suggested a few months, but my therapist knows me well and said I should start with two weeks, see how I feel, and take it from there. So that’s what I’m going to be doing.

Since yesterday, there’s been so much confusion in my mind and many different emotions all vying for attention, that I feel physically sick. Focusing on anything for longer than a couple of minutes is hard. I see it’s taken me half an hour to actually write this. I feel like a computer. My mind keeps going into sleep mode, then booting back up and continuing right where it left off. And this is where I’ll end tonight. Sleep sounds so good right now.

Caught In The Grip Of Anxiety

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My anxiety levels over the past few weeks have been worse than they have been in a long time. I deal with anxiety nearly every day, but the last time I remember it being this bad for such a long period of time was when I was still in my 4-year toxic relationship. It’s got to the point where just thinking about leaving the house causes overwhelm and panic. Not to mention the chest pain and the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply enough.

Nightmares have been a nightly occurrence, often many times a night, and it can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half to settle down enough to go back to sleep. In my therapy session last week, my therapist reminded me about a plan we had put in place where I would take a week off from all work every 3 months, a sort of mini-holiday (she wants me to do stuff for myself during this time that make me feel relaxed and happy) and suggested this might be the right time to do that. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind and when she mentioned it, I felt relief at the thought.

So that’s what I’ve done. I didn’t go into the office this week, although I didn’t exactly follow the plan properly as I have a current client for my design work who has been a major pain (a 4 month project that should have been finished long ago, but he’s been dawdling and suddenly rushed me and wanted some stuff done by Tuesday). I finished it in time, and now suddenly he’s vanished again. He’s been doing this since we started. I’ve started rewriting my contract to account for clients like this as I’m not going to go through this kind of situation again. Going to let my dad’s lawyer have a look at it when I’m done. They’ll have 8 business days during which to review and comment or I start charging extra, instead of 3 months with no additional charges, as in the case of this guy! A positive is that I’m learning how to run my business from having difficult clients in the early years.

I’ve had two therapy sessions this week because I just feel I need extra support right now. On Tuesday we walked down to the park/duck pond close by and sat on the swings, which was really nice. I adore swings, and wish I had one of my own! Never had a therapy session outside before. It feels very different, but a good different. The weather was perfect. Cloudy and cool, my type of weather.

I’m not sure what’s happening with our moving situation. Went to go look at a place a few weekends ago, which I loved, since my room would be downstairs and on the opposite side of the house, far from the family. With my own bathroom. But the parents didn’t like it. There are also apparently complications with the owner of the house we’re currently in, and no one can tell me what’s actually going on. One minute my dad is telling me to start packing, and the next it’s a case of “it’s complicated”.

Yesterday was the first day in a while that I felt able to meet up with a friend, M. I was supposed to meet with her last week Friday and then again on Wednesday, but didn’t feel up to leaving the house. I really wanted (needed) to see her yesterday. I absolutely love spending time with her, so me not meeting up with her sooner wasn’t because of her or because I didn’t want to spend time with her, but just due to my anxiety. It’s a bitch. M wanted to take me to the clinic when we met up (I couldn’t stop crying), but instead, we spoke about something that might help me even more than going back in (because I don’t want to go there again). I’ll write about that soon, just first want to speak to my therapist about it before I make a decision.

I don’t feel ready to go back to the office on Monday. But I’m going to make the most of this weekend by switching my phone off, and even if I have to force myself (and take anxiety meds), go down to the beach if only for half an hour. There’s nothing quite as healing as nature.

Self-Respect & Boundaries

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When I was in the clinic last year and while attending the Tuesday group sessions, we often spoke about boundaries, and, using DBT, ways to enforce those boundaries while maintaining self-respect.

While I’ve become better at setting and stating my boundaries, the follow through doesn’t come as easily. I may do well for a while, but then give in for some reason or the other. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling lonely (not to be confused with being alone). Maybe I feel bad for the person. And sometimes, maybe because I feel the need to fit in and avoid conflict (as in the case of my dad).

I’m still a work in progress, and don’t know if I’ll ever become an “expert”. But that’s okay. The important thing is to remember that I have the right to set and maintain these boundaries.

With that in mind I’ve decided to make a list of things I’d like to remember when it comes to my self-respect and boundaries. This list may change and grow over time, but for now this is what I’ve got.

It’s not my responsibility to fix or heal others.

I have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty about it.

I have a right to my own opinions.

My feelings are valid.

I have the right to my own space and time.

I don’t have to explain my reasons.

I’m allowed to change my mind.

I have the right to walk away when a situation or person makes me uncomfortable.

My needs are also important.

I have the right to ask for what I want and need, just as the other person has the right to say “no”.

It’s okay to be different to those around me and not force myself to fit in.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

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