Monday, October 31, 2011

Before/After and Mittens!

In keeping with my last post, which suggests that there are things I CAN do that will help in preventing 'failure-itis', I've made a pair of mittens and organized my spice rack.  First, my spice rack... I use the term 'rack' loosely.  It was two cardboard boxes in my pantry overflowing with zipper bags and jars and containers full of spices.  I do like to cook but I HATED going into the 'area' and looking for something.  More often than not I'd buy new apparently because I sure had some duplicates in there!  So taking inspiration from Tara, I asked a friend of mine to save me about two dozen baby food jars and I made myself a neater and more user friendly spice storage solution.  The original plan was to use scrap booking paper and spray paint and magnets, but when it came right down to it, I couldn't wait to get everything I needed together to make the spices look nice, I just had to get it done.  So I went as basic as possible and printed cute tags off the printer, hand wrote the labels and voila!  It makes the pantry much less offensive and it looks kind of cute too... I threw out all the rest of the bags and bags of spices I had because baby food jars hold a LOT and I knew by the time I was done with what was in the jars, the extra would have been stale and unuseable so I saved myself some time!  I did keep extras of curry and chili powder because I use a disgusting amount of each of those!

And then I made myself some mittens.  In my never ending quest to make sure i"m warm enough in Alcatraz, I'm knitting myself a matching toque and mitt combo.  I couldn't find mitts I liked enough so I made up my own pair.  They're knit flat and then I'll sew them together.  The nice thing is that due to the 'design' (I use the term loosely), the top of the hand will be double layer knit and the palm (where it's always warmer) will be single layer.  I effed up the thumbs on both and they currently don't even match but I"m not so sure I care!  The buttons are vintage... brass with white enamel and tiny shank style red ones that have a liquid soap/herringbone' type pattern on the top.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I CAN do

Earlier today I talked about all the stuff that makes me feel like I'm failing at life... Thanks to my many most wonderful and supportive friends (and my most most MOST amazing sister), I decided to look at what I CAN do.  Perhaps being a size 3 isn't in the cards for me right now, but that doesn't mean that I can't do other things to make myself feel better.

Thing I can do #1.  I can tell people who love me how I feel and then let them talk some sense into me.  I can let them explain from their own point of view and own experiences what it means to keep trying.  I can be so glad that my friends are honest and I can certainly stop referring to myself (even if it's in a round about way) as a dog!

Thing I can do #2. I can continue to appreciate my body and keep drinking a lot of water, stop drinking coffee (except on the weekends... give a girl a break!), not eat sodium filled junk (which I didn't do anyway!) and make myself lunches and breakfasts and dinners.  I LIKE making my breakfast and lunch.  I feel accomplished when I make my breakfast and eat it at my desk.

Thing I can do #3. I can take vitamins and mineral supplements in order to feel more vibrant.  I can recognize that part of why I feel so fucking tired all the time is because I gave up meat... I'm a chronic anemia sufferer!  Holyhowstupidareyou!  I bought and have taken now my liquid iron which I KNOW from experience will make me feel better.  I also bought Florasil, even tho it's expensive because it makes my hair and nails nice!

Thing I can do #4.  I can keep my house clean because I like it clean.  Not because someone expects it from me and I don't need to resent cleaning because I resented it in the past.

Thing I can do #5.  I can quit griping about cold sheets and bust out my oh so beloved hot water bottle in it's very own wooly custom cover.  I've been moaning about not being able to use it all summer... This will make me happy to go to bed earlier... which will help feeling tired all the effing time!

Thing I can do #6.  Sometimes majority rules. No one else seems to think I'm an epic life failure... I can go with the majority and presume that I"m being a bit harder on myself than I need to be.  It's not all about weightloss (the blog post before this)... I'm good at a lot of things and I'm successful at a lot of things.  Perhaps I will start concentrating on those!

Thing I can do #7.  Actually take one piece of this advice below and use it... Shanny... I think the WW thing is a good idea and I'm clearly getting no where with the Zone... now that WW has more of what I like about the Zone, perhaps it's worth a try...

And now, because I think these deserve to be read again and again, the comments from my friends and sister. (which I edited for grammar and punctuation ;)  )

I just want to day before I get to the comments that at every other time in my life... EVERY. OTHER. TIME. in my life, it has been me giving the advice.  It has been me that people have seen as strong and bulletproof.  Me that isn't crying when the person on the other end of the phone is.  IT. IS. HARD to move to the other side.  I take care of everything.  I don't need anything from other people.  Disappointments are used to strengthen and the parts that don't strengthen are discarded.  This somewhat whiney, irrational, low self esteem person that you see on here sometimes... wandering aimlessly and looking for help... that isn't a person I recognize... that makes everything much. much harder.  

You know when you get a sunburn and you think you're fine... it hurts a bit but nothing too drastic... and then you wake up the next morning in excrutiating pain?  And the next morning barfing your guts out because not only did you have a sunburn but you also got sunstroke?
THAT is what coming out of this chapter of my life feels like. I thought I escaped unscathed.  Then I felt scathed.  Then I felt a bit better and lo and behold, there's more hurt and more pain and more damaged things that I didn't even know were there to be damaged in the first place.  It haunts me, it taunts me and it makes me feel terrible!  It's affected every corner and crevice of my life... like a poison.  I guess thing I can do #6 is right... perhaps I should cut myself a bit of slack... it's not like I got back from a vacation in Hawaii... I rescued myself from an abusive relationship... Huh!

My friend Tara:
I will guarantee you that Shannon and Tara and Sharon ALL had setbacks. (If any of us say we didn't, then we're lying.)
Each one of us, through our journey to make change, have all hit a spot much like the one you're at right now where you're not feeling like a rockstar and you want to curl up in bed and give up.
It sucks ass.
Personally, I think it's ok to wallow in it a bit. But only a bit. Let yourself feel whatever you're feeling - because that's valid. But while you're feeling it, try to be aware of how it came about and how it feels. Then, pull your shit up and get back on track. Maybe the same track, maybe a slightly different one, maybe a totally different one altogether.
Just keep going.
I happen to know that you are a smart, determined, vibrant woman who WILL be successful.

You've been through something really big and getting past it is going to be equally big

My friend Jo from the UK:
'Does this make me a failure?'
Pretty sure it makes you human, sweetie.

The good times were real. Doesn't mean what you're feeling now is any less real, just means you can be fairly safe in the knowledge that what you are feeling now is not going to last forever. You've had a hardcore kinda year and it's going to be tough to deal with all the time. Taking a few steps back is not the end of the world when you think about the leaps forward you have already made. Think about the things that managed to pull you out of this last time (relying on friends, keeping busy, starting a new hobby etc etc) and see if you can recreate some of them to see if it helps. But don't punish yourself if you don't feel up for it just yet or it doesn't work immediately.

As for knowing when you're ready? You won't. Something will just click. I've been battling with my weight for a long time - when I'm happy I eat and get fat, when I'm not happy I starve myself and get thin - it's not healthy. Somewhere a few weeks ago, something just clicked and I'm eating, but healthily and I'm loosing weight and it's not hard right now. Is it going to last? I don't know. Will I punish myself if it doesn't. In all honesty, probably, because I'm human. But I'll survive it. And you will too and people will be amazed by how you've done.

My friend PJ from Cali!
I have a serious problem with the phrase 'Don't reward yourself with food. You are not a dog'. Humans, in every culture, for thousands of years, have celebrated with, for, and because of food. When we first started out, the reward WAS the food that was tracked and hunted over the period of days. Not only is it trying to override a basic human instinct (hey, animal instinct), but it is subconsciously removing the joy from food, by not allowing yourself to celebrate with it. When are you supposed to have food? Only when you're sad, upset, lonely, bored? That's far more dangerous.

There is NOTHING wrong with saying "I'm really proud of how hard I worked on that project, I will stop by my favorite bakery after work." Just like anything else, all good things in moderation. Rewarding yourself by eating 13 cupcakes? Not good. Thinking you deserve a reward every time you do the most menial task? Slow down. Telling yourself "no, I'm not a dog", what a sad, pitiful way of looking at your self. You deserve better.

My sister who I love more than anything!
Dude, woah down. You are not a failure. You're still living life and getting up every day and making a mark in the world. Maybe it's not the mark you wish to be making right now but that doesn't make you a failure! You're not failing at're living life...and no one, not one time, not ever, said that it was going to be easy.

Furthermore, in the worst year of my life, I did not keep going. I sat. And snacked and cried and then got up and went outside. I walked the dog and cleaned the house and did all the things that you do every day (minus the dog, of course). When the skies cleared a little I took the opportunity to push like crazy to gain a little back. And then I crashed again (literally this time, hit the dirt) and everything came to a halt again.

It's what happens. Tara can probably say exactly the same thing. The nuts and bolts of it are that my year kicked the living shit out of me....but what choice did I have but to keep going. It didn't feel good every day, some days felt like death. Just. Like. Yours.

You just keep going and make the best of the situation and treat yourself right as often as you can.

If it's weight loss you're most concerned about, if that's how you wish to reshape your life right now....perhaps it's time to shelve the Zone and try something else, something that works with you instead of you trying to work it. If you want my WW membership (the online app) on your phone, I will keep paying for it on my credit card and you can pay me back.

Like Tara said...feel whatever you feel, recognize it and validate it....but since you are a strong successful woman surrounded by the same, you then pull your shit up and get going. It is NOT going to be any easier tomorrow.
PS. This comment you make here: "What if you stick to the one thing and go on and on, trying to FORCE it to work for you? Is that better than giving it up?"

That is the definition of crazy. Why would you stick to something that isn't working and try to FORCE it to work for you? Why would you keep doing the same thing over and over when all signs point to the fact that it is no longer effective for you?

Find something new! CREATE something new. Don't try to force what worked in the past to work for you again, it's possible that that door is closed. Find a new door.

It is not reasonable or conceivable that you are destined for complete life failure. As in, will never succeed, doomed forever, can never have what you want.

I guess if you quit trying that's what you get. But you take a break, catch your breath and then PUSH. Don't break for too long, just long enough to muster the energy for another push.

To use a spinning crank up the resistance until you almost can't push the pedals. It's heavy and it's hard and it seems impossible. And then you take a deep breath, dig deep and give it a burst of power and pedal faster.....and you know what? It gets easier. Momentum, darling. Big breath, burst of power, pedal faster. Break and breath, repeat. Same with life.

And my friend Kerri just a second ago:
ummmm.... I have one word to say (to start anyway, lol)on this.
change and struggle are about grief.
Your summer elation? real. the dumpy dumps you feel now? real.
as we move through experiences and arrive at the other side, we immediately try to re-orient to the new reality. We create unrealistic expectations and hold our selves to impossible standards and we forge the first rule of self: compassion.
if you make a decision (i.e. A Zone Diet or Bust), and it turns out to not be the right decision.... bingo bammo, you can make a different decision.
You are the expert on you. You know all your dirty tricks, you know what makes you smile inside with joy and pride (yes pride, NOT a dirty word btw).
Seek the places you are most creative and DO YOUR ART. whatever that is (knitting, blogging, you get the picture) and EMBRACE it.
the mere act of CREATING, will propel you forward in the direction you are meant to be traveling.
Back to the grief thingy. its kinda like the saying "where ever you go, there you are". the only way through is.... through. I know, who made up that dumb rule eh?
Even if the dramatic change you went through was a positive one (yes, oh yes it was!) you will still grief its loss. Know each tear you shed (in whole foods or your pillow) is one less you are keeping inside to roil and rage against your keen spirit of courage.
peace out.
sorry if I sound crazy. I had my flu shot today. Probably mercury poisoning.


What defines a failure?  There's a poster on Pinterest that says something cliche like 'You only fail if you don't try'.  Okay, that's straight up bullshit!  I mean, yes, if you don't try, then you fail at what you want.  But what about people that try EVERYTHING and nothing works?  Does that not make some of those attempts failures?  What if you stick to the one thing and go on and on, trying to FORCE it to work for you?  Is that better than giving it up?
This thought came about yesterday when I burst into tears in Whole Foods.  I went there with a friend with the intention to buy a 'treat'.  My self esteem and my self love and self worth and every other 'self' thing was on the ground getting a stomping and I wanted something to make me feel better. Well, there's also a poster on Pinterest that says 'Don't reward yourself with food.  You are not a dog'.  I think there should be one that says 'Don't console yourself with food'.  My friend mentioned that she had signed up online for weight watchers and was having success with it because she felt that if she had to write down what she was eating, she would make sure she wasn't ashamed of what she was writing.  She mentioned that she thought that I was doing such a good job on my zone plan and eating breakfast and lunch and not eating out, giving up coffee etc... I said that yes, I did try that but it doesn't seem to stick... and she said something that made me cry in Whole Foods.  'Maybe you're not ready.  Maybe you've come out of something so traumatic that you're not ready to make more change.  Maybe you should just be happy that you're where you are now and not where you were four months ago'.  So what I want to know is 'When are you ready'.  When does it stop feeling like you're in quick sand?  I feel like in the last few weeks I've been transported back to the sad and dark place that I banished months ago... I had such a beautiful small window of time in the summer that I was unstoppable.  I was happy, content and comfortable.  Did that not really happen?  Was that fake?  It didn't feel fake... But what I feel now doesn't feel fake either.  I feel like there's a lump in my throat the size of a baseball all the time... I don't want to get out of bed, I'm unimaginative, despondant, disinterested... all those things that remind me of being in a very dark and unpleasant place.  Does this make me a failure?  I've been given (or have taken for myself) a new path in life... I'm only responsible for myself and I don't have the responsibility of managing someone else and my own self in a way that makes managing the other person easier... Sound confusing?  Try living it!  Anyway... it's difficult to not feel like a failure... My sister took her life and turned it around when she was unhappy and made herself healthy, happy and thriving...  She kept going even through possibly the worst year of her life.  My friend Tara is a force to be reckoned with.  She makes time for herself within a household of two toddlers and a difficult situation... She keeps pushing and perservering to get what she wants.  My friend Sharon surivived last year when her dad died tragically and she's still going, still pushing, still making her life what she wants it.  I"m surrounded by strong successful women and I can't get it together enough to not want to cry all the time... feels like failure to me.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I rue cat sand! I rue sleeping in a bed that has a sand box full of sand ground into my sheets. It's gritty and disgusting and as much as I love the kitty, I rue cat sand!!

I rue the smell of curry! I rue that I love love love eating curry but the smell of it mere moments after the last bite makes me gag!!

I rue cold sheets... I rue that I love to (and am required) sleep with the window open but that makes the sheets freezing. I rue the feeling of forcing yourself to flop down on the cold pillow, knowing it will make you tense and cranky when that's. It the way you should feel going to bed!

I rue gauge swatches and my own stupid inability to get my head around making them! I rue that knitting an entire gigantico mitten took more time than a teeny little swatch!

I rue typing on a tiny screen. Even tho I rue it, im not going back to check for mistakes so good luck!

I rue now having to go to bed in my freezing cold, curry scented, cat sand infested bed and I don't even have a mitten to keep me warm because it's big enough to fit my gritty freezing cold THIGH!


Friday, October 21, 2011


1.  I now have another blog... you're welcome to visit it but I suspect that the times I post there, I will also post that same (similar) post here.  That's the trouble with having two blogs... The second one is because I deleted facebook, I needed a place for my family to read.  I'm not willing to share this space with people I know in real life (for the most part... there are some of you that I've invited here and I'm glad you're here!) so I made a blog that I could post pictures and other stuff for.  Again, feel free to wander over there, but let's try not to leave a cookie crumb trail back to here ;)  Let me know if you want the address.
2.  I had a rather sad experience last night when I was driving home, down my street and saw a little wee white and gray fluffball of a kitten 'napping' on the road.  It made me very sad but also confused because normally I would bawl my eyes out at such a sight... but I didn't cry at all... either I'm more emotionally mature than previously, or I'm a cold hearted bitch... I'm trying not to think about the little fluffy now because I hope the people who's house he lives at took him off the road but if they didn't, then I don't want to think about him cold and wet outside... :(
3.  I drank two Granville Island Lions Winter Ale last night... partly in an attempt to feel better about the kitten and partly because I LOVE that stuff!  I got up to date on all my pvr recordings and finished making my One Sentence Journal.  I love it already, I just need to find a good spot to keep it.  Maybe on the passenger side nightstand...
4.  This always bears reminding... be CAREFUL what you tell people at work.  Not saying that you shouldn't share, but don't forget, especially if you are a woman... everyone doesn't have the same agenda as you!  No agenda you say?  Well I don't have one either... I also don't subscribe to competitive female bullshit, but some people do and you must NOT forget that!
5.  The post from my other website:
Ever want to write a journal but after you write that first sentence, you don’t know what else to say?  Well have I got the thing for you!
Take 365 index cards, one interesting box and 12 of anything that is important to you… post cards, scrap book papers, old greeting cards, photographs… And voila!
Well, not voila, but it’s really almost that easy.  Stamp (or write) the date (no year!) on each card.  Takes a while but it’s really the most time consuming part.  After that, you just put them in order, use your 12 important things to divide up the months, and then write one sentence per day, every day.  Make sure you start every sentence with the year and then in a few years, you’ll have a keepsake to look back on and see what was going on.  Don’t worry too much about what sentence you write.  When it comes time to re-read years from now… each of those sentences will be the most important thing on that day.  Funny how that works.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If you've ever thought

I was kidding about how much cards meant to me.... let me show you how I wasn't kidding:

I've never EVER thrown out a card... there's piles more in storage... this stack is from the last few years... I'd love to have a stack of cards as tall as me... They mean more to me than you'll ever really know.

Guess what I'm doing tonight~!


Today is not starting out well!
I put a whole bunch of almond milk in my coffee and I think it was off... it tastes terrible... I'm considering drinking it anyway...
I was eating a Pumpkin Spice Muffin from Whole Foods and a pumpkin seed and little blob of muffin went down the side of my throat and I had to cough so hard I nearly barfed... that didn't help remove it... it's still there...
My house is a mess... I don't know how it happens because I cleaned it on Friday afternoon... but there it is... messy.
I would have liked to stay snuggled in my bed all morning... I've taken the black out blinds off the window for the winter... I enjoy being in bed when the soft light filters through the window...
I did not make my own breakfast, bring snacks or lunch... I feel unhappy about that...
The good things...
I brought my new friend Gargy to work today... (see below).  He was a gift from my friend Glenda.  I love him!  He has pipe cleaners in his arms and legs but I swear he moves them by himself... I pose him and every time I turn around he's reaching for something...
Photo Credit Glenda
I found a very cool project on Pinterest last night (when I should have been sleeping!).  Basically it's a perpetual scrapbook of sorts.  Here's the link.  I'm going to use bigger cards I think... because on some it might be nice to be able to put a picture or a scrap of yarn (if I happen to finish a project that day).  Also, I'm not very consice so one sentance might not cut it for me...  I'm very excited about it but was thinking of waiting till January 1 to start it... altho I guess I could start it whenever I wanted to... what do you think?  Now, or wait?  Here's the link.   
I would also like to find some happy/sad/neutral face stickers to put next to every day as an indicator of my overall attitude.
New projects fun!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blast from the Past

Ever had someone describe you to... well you?  It's interesting, funny and inspiring.  This is from over three years ago when we failed at attempting to share a blog, but it pops into my head often, so I thought I'd spend some time digging it up and replicate it here for you. We wrote eachothers bio's.  If you want to read about the wonder that is 'Shanny', she's Fitty vs Fatty on the sidebar. 

Darcy is a princess.  No doubt about it.  She’s everything a princess should be; smart, strong, beautiful and fearless.  She doesn’t spend too much time worrying about what other people think.  She knows that it’s up to her to create her own happiness and she does it with flourish and vigor. 
Princess Darcy has a soft spot for firefighters, teddybears and all things army.  She’s athletic and driven but she still knows how to have a good time and does so as often as she can.  She’s honest and caring and will tell you exactly what she thinks even if you don’t want to hear it because she only wants what’s best for you.  She’s exciteable and emotional and funny.  Her take on things can be dry and cynical but incredibly hilarious!
My sister and I can laugh at everything and nothing until we can’t breathe.  We solve problems well together and I know that she will be there to back me up 100% of the time.  She knows my flaws and faults and she loves me anyway.
My sister is many of the things that I strive to be.  She’s my heart, the other half of me.  They say that twins have a connection, I don’t know if that’s true.  I do know that her soul resonates in mine.
I was trying to think of something that I could say about my sister that she wouldn’t be saying about me…and what I came up with is:  She takes care of me.  She’s a warm and friendly person who has never thought twice about leaving work and driving to my house while I’m sick or crying or insane.  Maybe she doesn’t like her job that much…it could be that…but I chalk it up to her being a good, kind hearted person who cares about me.  I wish she was able to say that about me, but so far I’ve yet to come to her rescue, despite being rescued many times myself.
Shanny works hard at a job she sometimes likes.  She has a tendency to get on better with men than women, which is attributed to her not wanting to put up with female competetive bullshit.  She’s funny and witty and always makes me laugh.  She’s changed a lot in the last year.  She’s now proudly a recovering smoker, a partaker of fitness and, although this isn’t different from before, a clothes/shoe horse.
She has a great spirit and together we make one hell of a team….we may even be able to convince you, through our “twin connection” that you’ve taken holidays you don’t remember and done things you don’t actually think you would have.
Oh!and don’t bother pinching her…I can’t feel it!  We’re connected at the heart, not the skin cell!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh, it's a GOOD day!

FACEBOOK IS GONE! Out of my life!  For good!  Good riddance to you!  You're a spy and you're fake and dishonest and you don't deserve my time!

Now you're going to have to come here to spy on me, peeps!  But you know what?  I welcome it!  At least what you see here and say here (if you comment) is based on some sort of reality!  At least what I write here has context and background... I can't live in a 140 character world anymore... 

Okay, so with that out of the way, today is a really good day!  I woke up early with the kitty by my side, turned my ipod on to Dean Brody and fell back asleep for a while... how lovely!

After a good lazy morning, I got myself all packed up and went to the Richmond Farm Market for some fruit and vegetables.  When I came home I cleaned out the fridge, scrubbed the kitchen and then cleaned out my 'junk' cupboard... Oddly enough, even tho I've been living here by myself for a while now, there's still a lot few crannies that have not been purged yet... 

I've just steamed some acorn squash (my first!) and put butter (a bit too much) and brown sugar on it... it's DIVINE!  I plan to eat it with purple rice and egg for dinner and catch up on my pvr with my knitting.

Tomorrow is another day and if it's as gorgeous out as today was, I'm going to go down to White Rock and go for a walk... Wanna come?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Ginger Trifle

Good Morning!

I'd like to share my recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Trifle with you.  Apparently it tastes like glamourous pumpkin pie... I say it's very VERY good but it makes a LOT, so make sure you have a lot of people to share it with!

Pumpkin Ginger Trifle

2 chocolate/vanilla swirl loaf cakes (sliced and then broken into pieces)
2 small cans of Pumpkin Pie filling (or one large can)
1 box of Cooked Vanilla Pudding
3 cups of 2% milk
1 tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Filling
10 Graham Crackers
1/4c Crystalized Ginger (also known as candied ginger.  I bought mine in the bulk section)
2 containers of Cool Whip (or no name brand of the same)
Anna's Ginger Cookies (commonly found at Ikea)

Begin by cooking the pudding according to package instructions, adding in the Pumpkin Pie spice to the cold milk.
When the pudding has cooled (doesn't have to be 'cold'), stir in pumpkin pie filling and set aside.
In a food processor or your magic bullet, grind up graham crackers and crystal ginger together until it resembles a crumb/course dust consistency.  Set aside.

Break cake into pieces and put half into the bottom of a trifle pan.
Pour (or ladle) approximately half the pumpkin mixture onto the cake.  Sprinkle half the graham cracker/ginger mixture over pumpkin.
Spread 1/3 of thawed cool whip (this takes five hours in the fridge to thaw, so plan ahead!) over graham/ginger mixture.
Repeat with remaining ingredients, using last two ladles of pumpkin to top the center of the trifle. 
Refrigerate over night.
When ready to serve, dollop remaining cool whip on top and garnish with cookie crumbs or ginger cookies.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The kitty and the beet

Sort of like the Princess and the Pea?  Kinda....
The photos tell the story... but here's a short dummies guide:
Taking pictures of a beet (because I am FINALLY making beet chips)
Get better at taking photos of beet... all done on my iphone mind you!
Kitty sneaks into the photoshoot (on the COUNTER) and makes himself useful
Photographer HEAVES 13lb cat off the counter ON the cardboard, accidentally dumping him about half way down
Kitty acts photogenic.
The end.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This is VERY long... but very worthy!

This has been sitting in my mind and my heart for almost a week now… I’ve been fighting writing it… first because it was so personal that I was afraid writing it would make it more true… and then because I didn’t know how much I should share on here. I was worried about alarming people as to how bad my situation was.  I’ve been pretty candid with some with regard to the real nuts and bolts of my situation, but some I’ve left in the dark in order to protect.  Not because I think that my situation is going to negatively impact, but more because no one wants to hear bad stuff about people they care about.  In the end I figured out that I really protecting myself.

Last week I was at a Leadership course in which we spent two days discovering our own motivational values and discovering others. 

My motivational value system is Blue.  Defined as Altruistic-Nurturing.  Some words and phrases associated with being ‘blue’:
Being open and responsive to the needs of others
Seeking ways to bring help to others
Trying to make life easier for others
Trying to avoid being a burden to others
Ensuring others reach their potential
Ensuring others are valued
Defending the rights of others
Open, Friendly, helpful, considerate, supportive, enhancing, trusting, socially sensitive, sincere, loyal, compassionate, respectful, humanitarian, being needed, being appreciated.

If you know me even a little bit, you know that the above phrases and wording are written for me.  To be fair, it’s situational, but that in a nut shell is how I live my life… at home and at work.

When I’m involved in ‘conflict’, whether internally or externally, the internal experience for me is as follows:

Stage One (mild conflict) Simply be accommodating to the needs of others
Stage Two (medium conflict) Give in and let the opposition have it’s way
Stage Three (severe conflict) Feeling defeated completely

My observable behavior in conflict is
  1. Accommodate others
  2. Surrender conditionally
  3. Surrender completely

That’s a lot of information, I realize.  However, it’s important as it relates to the real meat of this post.

My main driving factor in my relationships with others is to do what I can to give them what they need.  This is sometimes to the detriment of being able to say no.  I enjoy the feeling of being needed, I enjoy the appreciation from others… It makes ME feel good to make others feel good.

While we were in this class, I mentioned to the room that I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to determine when I was in conflict because I was always ‘the exact same way’.  Someone asked if I ever got mad.  I said no, because I couldn’t remember the last time I was bounced out of my regular self into a conflicted self, even if for only a moment.

As we went through the rest of the course, the instructor (Matt) promised me an ‘aha’ moment.  No moment seemed forthcoming and then we broke for lunch.

As has often happened for me, the epiphany comes with no warning.  My subconscious mind is processing things behind the scenes and only when the item is processed enough for my conscious mind to hear it, is it given to me. And in this instance it was given to me in the style of a big bag of bricks to the head/heart!

I alerted Matt to the fact that I’d just had my epiphany.  And then I cried.  His sincere kindness and the magnitude of my realization led me to explain what was going on.

I had alluded to the relationship in past conversations with him, not really stating what had really gone on (because honestly, who tells an almost perfect stranger intimate details of a relationship, good or bad).

Even I was struck by my reaction… heaving sobs as I put into words what I had only just realized.  Almost five years and I had lived almost every day in the state of conflict.  Accommodate others.  Surrender conditionally.  Surrender completely.

I no longer knew how to live in the calm, peaceful and natural state of my real personality.  I wasn’t able to say when I changed from my ‘when things are going well’ personality into my ‘conflict personality’ because I was always living in the conflict one.

I realized that someone that was supposed to love me unconditionally manipulated and took advantage of who I am as a person.  The fundamental things that make me ME, were distorted and abused.  I changed myself so much… accommodating, surrendering, that I turned into a different person.

I remember walking up the path to my house and feeling like I was towing the world behind me.  Hoping for the best and refusing to believe the worst.
I remember the physical symptom of ‘surrender completely’.  I would let out a huge sigh, my shoulders would visibly fall and that world I was towing behind me was all of a sudden right on top of me.

And the very next day, after he moved out, I felt surreal.  Like I didn’t know myself.  So I embarked on getting to know again what food I liked to eat, how I liked to keep my house, what I liked to watch on tv.  When my ideal bedtime was, my new morning routine, taking care of the kitty by myself.

The thing that Matt mentioned was that while I’m working on getting to know those somewhat superficial (my word, not his) things about myself, it was also time to learn again fundamentally who I am when I’m living in peace.  How do I process peaceful situations now.  How will I process non peaceful situations.  And how will I prevent my innate being from being removed from me… How will I prevent being taken advantage of?  I’m a very kind, very giving and very accommodating (for the most part) person and it’s a slippery path to go down because it’s difficult to say no.

We discussed how to be a ‘selfish blue’.  How to make sure that I trust myself again.  I said I didn’t.  I don’t really.  I’m terrified that the next person that comes along will erase me again.  Even knowing what I know now about the things I won’t tolerate, I still don’t trust me in love.

The instructor said that the two things he asks people to find out if they’re ready to move on to phase 2 (which I gather comes after the stark realization made in phase 1), is if they answer yes to both of the following questions.

  1. Do you love yourself?
  2. Do you trust yourself?

I do love me.  I love the me that I am becoming.  The mostly vegetarian, go to bed by 9, laugh at nonsense and enjoy my quiet time me.  The me that was strong enough and able enough to get out of my relationship when I knew it would never be what it should.

I don’t trust me.  I don’t trust me at all.  Matt mentioned that now is the time for me.  To be selfish and consider myself first, which goes outside of what my normal behavior would be.  To know my own limits and to take more time to listen to my gut reactions about things.  And to know to trust those gut reactions.  To trust myself when myself is saying ‘this isn’t right’ and ‘I don’t want to…’.

He also said that that specific moment was inspiring.  I don’t understand that… I’m an ugly crier and I was certainly not feeling inspiring or inspired.  But I can see for someone like him, who is very self aware and aware of those around him, how it might be inspiring to see someone’s realization about the past burst the chains around their future. 

It was a very enlightening 30 minutes of my life.  I feel less crazy… I feel stronger knowing now what I do about my behavior.  That I was simply behaving the way I was born to behave.  That my reaction to the situation was innate to the person I am.  I know now that if I would have realized this earlier, maybe I would still have taken 5 years to remove myself, but I would at least have understood what was happening.