Upon waking this morning I touched my face and realized it is one of the few things we cannot see on our bodies; unless of course we look at it through the reflection of a mirror. It is however, the first thing people look at when they see us. Just a thought. A bit disturbing.
She sat up in the bathtub.
She watched the small tornado forcefully sink into the drain.
She was suddenly aware of her entire body.
A vessel once used for love.
It now embodies the significance of her death.
Her sanity drains from her mind with the same brutality as the tornado swirling before her eyes.
I am better than what I was today. This lie. I have diminished myself into a bed sheet on the floor where there was once a person. The voice in my head is yelling at me that I am no good. Every morning, every day, and right now, as it turns to night… I am still a vacant soul. The alcohol isn’t working. My kids are watching the tears stream. All I can do is answer “Mommy’s okay, I’m sorry.”
My stunted voice tells me I am a bad mother. What was I thinking? I should have never become a mom in the first place. Some people just shouldn’t be parents. Why did I marry him? I knew better. I swear I did. I just couldn’t stand up for myself. Because I didn’t know I had a self. I still don’t, or I wouldn’t be feeling like this.
I want to be brave. I want to be myself.. Not the self I project, but the me everyone including myself, knows is in there somewhere. She is dying to show herself. Literally. There is a light inside of me, so I have been told, that shines so bright. Do you think maybe it is me who puts on the lampshade? Or perhaps certain ghosts of my past who have dimmed my light? A little of both I suppose. You believe what you hear after years of conditioning. I know I am a woman of worth, but why do I feel so ugly and undeserving?
Don’t tell me I need to go to church.
So, I was cruising along just fine in my training for Warehouse, logistics and Transportation. I am days away from being nationally accredited with a certification. Today we started the job interview process. I had to come up with a mission statement about my myself; basically selling myself to a hiring manager. Needless to say, a person with damaged self worth has a hard time with this assignment. I can pass a test. In fact, I have all A’s in the program, but today, I could hardly find the strength to lift my head from the desk. Find something good about myself and then convince people of it? Tears. Tears ran down my face during the whole class. I recognized a familiar feeling.
Fear of failure.
This program? This is as far as I can go. I need to get up and run. I can’t finish this. I never finish anything. Some people are self confident and stupid. I am the opposite. I am petrified.
Not to mention, all the phone calls from my ex husband informing me that he is now working. Oh great. No wait. He gets paid daily so he can get high. I never expected any help from him, but don’t rub your ability to numb your feelings in my face. I could use a big dose of something about now! But I have to take care of the children you abandoned to get high.
This isn’t my dream. I went to school to work in a field I dreamed of since I was in high school. Now I am almost 40 years old training to be a warehouse worker. Fine. Maybe I sound spoiled right now. I am just a little resentful. I know my life’s calling is different from picking orders and driving a forklift. It will pay the bills, but it will not fulfill my heart. My heart is big. It is bruised. It’s been stretched and broken. In the midst though, I know it needs to feel what it hasn’t felt ever before. Some hearts never break so they don’t get the opportunity to feel the mending or the longing to mend. My brain and mind are amazing tools, but it’s my heart that is aching. If I don’t use it, I will die… emotionally.
People need me. I need me. Hence, the importance of a resilient heart.
There is no shame in the truth.
No matter how degrading the precision.
Her shame awakened a warrior.
Plucked from the rubble to fight,
She has been recruited to face her iniquities.
Rising up, she wrestles on behalf of those she once pitied.
Not knowing it was the monsters who hid behind her mirror laughing,
she was a fool.
A fighter who lost her footing.
A clean sweep, taken down by her own fractured reflection.
There is no shame in the truth.
With heavy pain and immense strength, she pulls herself back up.
This affliction is grueling…. go easy on her.
There is no shame in the truth.
Reflections do not lie,
But ghosts? They do.
They do not readily give.
Instead they rob and steal.
She is fighting for her life.
So be kind to her,
After all, she is all you’ve got.
There is no shame in the truth.
In the end of her years,
Her gloves will come off.
She didn’t retreat this time,
By her strength they backed off.
The reflection she sees looking back at her now…
She is different somehow.
There are no signs of bruising , no blood, no tears.
Only scar tissue remains,
She balks at her fears.
With every knock out, every sprain,
she trained hard to stand again,
In even the heaviest of rain.
Her body, once a wasteland,
Now a fine tuned machine.
Her eyes, brave and newly bright.
A redeemed green that glows in the presence of new light.
As for those she once pitied,
They visit in her dreams.
The only space she will allow them.
A simple reminder,
A subtle scare,
She can handle it now,
But they wouldn’t dare…
That familiar and wicked laugh.
Those mirrors they taunt her with,
She now breaks in half.
She rose with the sun today,
On the other side of the room.
She breathed in life…
Not one stain of gloom.
In that radiant resolve she knew,
She was not shattered, she was not undone.
There is no shame in the truth.
I am entering my fourth week of therapy after a long absence. With my lapse in medical insurance and a chaotic 3 years of divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment, moving, and just a new start in general, I have neglected to maintain either the progress or deterioration of my mental health. However, on the flip side of that same coin, I must remember that all of the above took place with high priority so that I could, in fact, keep my mental health in tact.
So here I am, sitting with the same issues that have accompanied me since adolescence. These issues feel somehow magnified now. I believe this is a result of the chaos in my life quieting down. With this quiet from external intrusions comes the sudden awareness of the noises within. Images from an ugly past, memories, nightmares, my addictions and obsessions have suddenly magnified and manifested themselves. I have, without warning, had to play “whack a mole” against a crafty opponent. My own mind.
It’s like there is a long thread that has been woven into the center of my heart and soul. It’s been there since I was born and it will still be with me when I die. I compare it to an affliction with changing symptoms. Like a woman who changes her clothes. Her name is mental illness. She has many outfits. She has disguised herself as many different calamities, all which have plagued me at different times since childhood.
Currently, my eating disorder is her wardrobe of choice. It is difficult for me to even admit or say the terms “mental illness” or “eating disorder.” It feels uncomfortable and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the stigma that accompanies such things. It’s one matter to be uncomfortable saying it aloud, but to feel uneasy saying it in the privacy of my own head alarms me.
In the last few days I have decided to take charge of my brain in a new way. I am unsure of the outcome and do not know if it will work, or even change anything. What if I get worse? But, what if I get better? I posted a few days ago how it is not healthy for me right now to be obsessing over diet and exercise. It has consumed me. I came to the conclusion that I will never be happy as long as I chase after this perfection, attainable or not. I am undergoing an experiment. This morning, painful as it was, I ate 2 hash browns, 2 eggs and 1 and a half pieces of swiss cheese. I wouldn’t allow my eggs to be cooked in butter. I’ll save that for a more courageous day. Normally, this meal would have ruined my day and crushed any enthusiasm I had for the day. I don’t know how many calories I ingested, and that’s okay, because my goal is to not give a shit. These foods are not unhealthy just sitting there on a plate to most people. However, I see something completely different. Rather, the feeling provoked in me upon seeing the food is what is different. I don’t even need to see it. Just thinking about it is enough to send me into a spiral of self loathing. It is like my brain is at war with my body. I want to be “normal” and eat what other people eat. But when I do allow myself this, I feel like I have done myself a huge injustice. Because one of my biggest fears is gaining weight.
I have been wrestling with this since I was a teenager. I want more than anything to be over it. Maybe in two weeks when my pants don’t fit, I’ll change my mind. But for right now my daily goal is no not give a shit. It sounds simple, I am sure, to those who walk with confidence. For me, confidence can be a moment to moment struggle. And the only way to become confident is to literally not care what anyone is thinking of you. I will practice this with my family, at the grocery store, and right here with you. When I pass by a mirror or a window and get a glimpse of myself, I am going to feel better knowing that I am not going to waste a whole day trying to change myself.
How I felt sitting in my big red chair again this morning, acutely aware of my fleshy tummy, I had a decision to make. A big one. Breakfast. I was either going into the kitchen to make “the usual,” or I was going to let my other half make what she makes for herself every day, but make it a double. I sat and contemplated. And it hurt. I struggled with my self. The war between my head and my body is an intense one. I ended up surrendering to my instincts, not wanting to revert back to my old behavior too quickly, without allowing this experiment to take it’s course. And that was to eat the fucking hash browns that I always decline. It was freeing. This was hours ago and I am just now getting hungry again. In fact, looking at my plate this morning, I was concerned it wouldn’t fill me up. It was like getting more bang for my buck. It looked like less food, but somehow it was more.
So I will continue with this experiment. I am hoping to make leaps and bounds into new territory. I am scared and excited at the same time. Dealing with the painful feelings that I have bypassed with this obsession will not be easy. It will be hard work as my therapist has warned me. But it’s work I want to do. Having an obsession and/or an addiction makes it easy to avoid what’s really going on in the dark corners of my mind. Having this awakening to focus on what I think instead of what others think just may be the biggest victory for me. Ever.
Who gives a shit? That’s my daily affirmation, my homework, my medication.
I am not always moved to write, but when I heard about the suicide of Mindy McCready, I felt crushed. She was my age. She struggled with addiction. She survived a nearly fatal abusive relationship. She was wrecked, and I know what all of those things feel like.
When I heard this news tonight, my whole day came together like a puzzle, like the last piece brought me full circle.
Every day I try to do something that scares me, because that’s what I know will continually help me regain my confidence. But today I failed.
I started the day anticipating a great workout. An instructive class on kettlebells… something I hated in the beginning of my work outs, but have actually grown to enjoy. I am used to going to my small class, we call “boot camp” at the break of dawn 4 mornings a week. There are usually no more than 5 of us there. There are 2 instructors, they rotate days and I adore them both. I enjoy my mornings.
I have attended a large class there before, but being that this is a Martial Arts School, I felt uncomfortable because I was completely lost when it came to technique. Since then, I have wanted to take some level 1 classes, but haven’t due to these unbelievable battles with myself in my head. .. After all, I only go there to work out, not to learn Martial Arts (although I want that as well).
It is ironic to me, more disappointing though, because my absolute favorite aspect of my morning class is the time we spend on the bags… kicking, punching. It is the greatest workout; I feel empowered, strong. I love the feeling of being able to kick the shit out of something as hard as I can.
Speaking of power, I believe there are two sides to this revelation. I feel absolutely powerless. I feel physically weak, emotionally stripped, and my self- confidence has altogether disappeared.
I will not be a victim. I am not appealing to anyone’s sympathy. All of these consequential states of mind I find myself in, I have allowed.
I realized this morning as I left my house, water bottle in one hand, weight lifting gloves in the other, that I have not come as far as I thought. In fact, I had to lie to my kids as I returned not 2 minutes after I left, (with them knowing how excited I was for this class) for the reasons I did not go. That felt bad because if anything, I want them to know their mom is strong.
As I was walking down the street, (I can practically see the gym from my door) I saw two guys who were obviously headed to this class, gym bags on their shoulders, and I froze. I turned around and walked back to my door. I stood there for a couple of minutes telling myself it was okay. I know for sure this time it is a 101 class. Not like the last time. But then why are they here?
Living so close, I see guys like this all the time going to the gym to practice martial arts. I am just used to my routine. I think that’s what scared me, so I turned around. As I headed back up the street, I saw a man I recognized who sometimes attends the class I go to in the morning; he was just leaving the Sunday morning Muay Thai Class. He asked if I was headed to Kettlebell 101. I replied yes and asked him if there were a lot of people in there. He said yes. I panicked. I stopped. I waited until he passed. I turned around and walked back home. Again. The longest 30 seconds ever; yelling at myself in my head that this was the thing I had to today do that scared me!
What the hell am I so afraid of? I have sat in class rooms with hundreds of people in college. I graduated from college. I’ve belonged to huge gyms, I have been to jail… now, that’s intimidating. I have walked on this earth for 37 years, had two children, been married to an abusive drug addict, I never knew my father, I have a dysfunctional often nonexistent relationship with my mother, I serve hundreds of people coffee on a daily basis, I honestly believe I have been to hell and back, and yet I am too scared to walk into the same building I walk into 4 morning a week?
I feel paralyzed. And yes, at this moment, I blame him. (my ex husband) He changed me. He left me afraid. I am petrified of going into a situation I cannot control. This morning, If I only could have looked in the window first, I might have gone in. If I would have known that my fellow boot campers were in there, I would have walked in.
I came home, went to my room, and I cried. I knew how defeated I was. I actually felt the heaviness of the last 15 years weighing me down. I really thought I was beyond feeling this small.
Where is my self- worth? I know it’s in me. I know I am capable of great things. I want to be strong again, in every possible way.
The biggest irony is that I want to be a personal trainer. I usually don’t tell people my goals, yet I have talked to a couple of people about this rekindled passion. I disclosed it full knowing it will help me be accountable in
pursuing it. I guess I am intentionally scaring myself into following through with this. It’s because I know I can do it. I know I will be good at it. I want it that bad.
And now whoever is reading this can hold me accountable too.
I want to do something every day that scares me… sometimes I will fail.
I will try again tomorrow.
And the next day.