Things that make me feel better #1

I went back to work after the half term holiday yesterday and I think being busy has helped me feel better. It’s still a little odd, knowing that my colleague is pregnant. I don’t think many other people know – she is waiting until the first scan. I think I saw her with a green form (to book the time off work) today. So it could be soon. I’m hoping so much that people will keep it low key and not refer to it constantly in front of me…

I feel strangely wooden around her. She has always tended to be business-like, and can seem a little bit rude if you don’t know her well. Maybe its just that side of her that I’m picking up on too much, feeling too vulnerable. I’m trying not to dwell on it though. Our stories are different, it just can’t be helped.

I’ve also decided a couple of things in the last few days.

1. Mr W and I want to do IVF. Although he is getting used to the idea in his own way. I’ve learned that he operates completely differently to me when it comes to emotions and reasoning. Whereas we can pre-empt each other’s thoughts and take the words right out of each other’s mouths because our minds work the same way to a certain extent, I know that I need to be patient and not demand a ‘yes I totally agree with you and I’ll do exactly what you want’ right this minute. It may be an age thing as well as a gender thing – he is 16 years older than me, and while it doesn’t matter one jot, it can make a big difference. So basically (yes I’m getting to point number 1…honestly!…) I DON’T CARE what anyone else thinks about that. It’s completely up to us, and if anyone disapproves, they can fly off because it’s none of their business.

2. I have no idea what is possible, considering the extent of my endometriosis. All I know is, I get my first GNRH injection tomorrow at 16:30 – the start of the second phase, if you like, of treating the condition. There are six injections, four weeks apart. As I mentioned, I think I may need further surgery before IVF could even be an option, and I don’t know when that could happen. I am taking steps to find out. In the mean time, I need to live my life – not just try to get though the day. Six months – at least – of waiting before anything can start at all. So I need to get on with living. I want to feel better than I did last week.

As far as number 2 goes, there are a few things I can try. I’ve started doing a couple of (tiny) things differently, and I might post about them soon (hence the optimistic ‘#1’ in the title) but for now, I wanted to share this: I was looking on my phone for Belle’s Sober Jumpstart audios, the first five days from when I began my big sober stretch. I found Mystic Cord of Memory by Michael Bernard Beckwith, that I downloaded a few years ago. I stumbled across it, like I do with most things on the internet, whilst looking at something else entirely (art journaling, which I don’t do anymore). It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it really calming and full of positive energy. The only link could find was this one for an Effy Wild video on YouTube. If you’re not into the art, just listen. I think you might like it 🙂

 

 

 

Am I a perfectionist?

A few weeks ago I was saying how great I was feeling, and what I was doing that I thought might be contributing to that good feeling…Guess what I went and did? You’ve got it – self-sabotage.
Why? I’m not entirely sure. I stopped working out. A couple of days without because of a disrupted routine, to start with, and then I just never got going again. The green juicing got more infrequent, and I felt more and more lethargic. And I felt more and more low.

So when the Tapping World Summit started, I decided to have a listen. And I seem to have stumbled across some feelings about the past that I was unaware I’d been carrying around until now. I listened to the Tapping interview with Carol Look on perfectionism, which really struck a chord with me. I could relate to the lethargy (see above!) and hopelessness she describes as being a symptom of perfectionism. My negative self-talk is constant and sometimes overwhelming (apart from when I was feeling good and wrote that post!), and leaves me anxious and exhausted. When it came to the section of the interview about discovering where we pick up these ideas that everything has to be done to these impossibly high standards, she said she would always suggest that people go back to their childhood, and ask themselves what messages came from their parents.

I thought about this, and although I don’t have any idea where I got this tendency towards perfectionism, something Carol Look said about childhood events also made me really think. She said that we fear that if we’re not perfect, everything will fall apart, and it will be a disaster. Now, a disaster to you or me would probably be something like breaking a limb maybe, or losing your job (extreme, but you get the picture). But as children, we might have been affected to a similar extent by something a lot less extreme, such as a look from our parents, being told off in a certain way, or some other action on their part. I started to think of several, seemingly insignificant things that happened to my childhood self….

I’m still not entirely sure how the whole picture fits together, but the issue of having children of my own feels somehow related. This morning, my husband asked me if I would mind if, in the next couple of years, he was to buy an expensive item relating to his hobby. We got onto the subject of money, and where priorities would lie if we manage to have children, and then wandered away from the money side of things. I said that I get afraid sometimes, that we might have left it too late – that he might be too old for it. After calling me a cheeky so and so, and telling me to go and stand in the garden 😉 he said no we hadn’t left it too late at all. ‘Plenty of women have babies into their forties. Look at you – your mum was 40 when she had you’… And I said ‘EXACLTY! Look at how I’ve turned out!!!’

I can remember all these little instances when I felt like a nuisance, an irritation, I did something really wrong and was told off, and that ultimately my mum would rather have been doing something else than looking after me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she loves me very much – I’m very lucky to have two parents who love me. I had a very secure upbringing. It’s just that listening to what Carol Look was saying in the interview, about the scale of the ‘disaster’ we experience as children really resonated all of a sudden. And then I saw it again this afternoon whilst reading Brene Brown’s ‘I thought it was just me’. She describes the work or Dr Uram at The Meadows, a trauma and addiction treatment facility;

‘Dr. Uram points out that we tend not to recognise the small, quiet traumas that often trigger the same brain-survival reaction [primal fight, flight and freeze responses]…I believe it’s possible that many of our early shame experiences, especially with parents and caregivers, were stored in our brains as traumas’.

My dad was often out at work throughout the day, and meetings at night, so it was just me and mum a lot of the time – or at least it felt that way to me. I remember once, when Mum had told me off for something – it must have been particularly badly because I can still feel how distraught I was, now – I desperately needed comforting, and I hugged her because there was no one else. I know that’s not really a big thing in the grand scheme of things, but to my little girl self it must have been pretty bad.

So I want to (if I’m lucky enough) make sure that my child NEVER feels unwanted or a nuisance, but a part of me worries, ‘what if I end up being just like my mum was with me?!’.

Our stories are different though. I was a surprise(!), and when she had me, my mum had already had two children, one of whom had already left home (and would later drop out of college, no doubt causing my parents a lot of worry). So my Parents had thought that my brother and sister were going to be their only children, before I came along. My mum therefore hadn’t been intending to spend the next however many years of her life caring for another child. I know that she had been bewildered, and even resentful when she and Dad first got married. She hadn’t realised it how it would be. It was the early sixties and Dad went to work whilst she was left with the kids at home. I think it was difficult for her to cope with the inequality of the situation – which must have been echoed in young married couples’ homes everywhere I guess. So yes, my situation is different – a lot different.

Back to the perfectionism. I’m also starting to wonder if that has an impact on how I handle being around other peoples babies. Am I just jealous, or am I terrified that I’ll be judged if I don’t ‘do it right’. I know I worry about being less of a woman because I don’t have children. I mean, I know there are a lot of us out there (and I really could do with hanging out with someone in the same boat!), and I shouldn’t feel this way, but it’s hard not to feel in some way inadequate. But that’s also part of the issue of my own self-worth….

I know, I know, I think far too much. My thoughts are relentless and unforgiving, but sometimes I can’t do anything other than go through the process of actually thinking them, and letting everything bubble up and escape. Otherwise I would go mad! (Perhaps I already am!)

But at least I do not drink. Sobriety is helping me get to the bottom of all this stuff, I know it. There is a point to going to these places in my mind. Like they say in the tapping interviews, we need to go to the root of the feeling before we can begin to clear whatever is blocked, and heal ourselves in order to change. I had better start tapping….

Thinking and feeling

I’m feeling a lot better since my last post – thank you for the kind words of encouragement 🙂

Things did get pretty bad there for a short time. I felt myself edging towards despair because I was in the same dark place as just before I quit drinking. How can this be, I asked myself? How UNFAIR!

The cause was probably related to reaching 100 days. A post-goal let down, flat feeling, combined with the anxiety of potential temptation in the restaurant and pub on Saturday night. The feeling of isolation caused by my not drinking then added to a phase that my husband and I were going through, of poor communication and skewed priorities. I can see it all much more clearly now, but at the time everything felt so fuzzy that I even had some ‘what is the point of anything‘ thoughts. This has made me realise I need to keep an eye out for the signs of depression, because it will obviously start to creep in again, given the right conditions. because I can now look back more clearly, I can see that I have been able to recognise the signs before it does too much damage, and reach out for help. Initially, I quit the wine and then reached out to Belle for help and accountability. This time I have written here, but more importantly, been able to read comments and blog posts, and also find help elsewhere through these. Thank you 🙂

I also told my counsellor what I’d been feeling. I talked about comments from people on that night out, my reaction to some stuff on Facebook, how Mr W and I were doing. She said that the main common theme running through it all seemed to be that I was feeling the need to justify myself. I’m just arriving at this thought now, perhaps I was supposed to get this in the counselling session, but maybe a part of me was demanding justification from another part? Say, my ego had begun questioning what the hell I thought I was actually doing here? Making myself stick out like this, be different than other people, not fit in, and so ultimately prevent me from getting approval from other people?

Damnit, approval from others is something I ALWAYS struggle with!! I am getting better, but it’s disappointing to realise I still have a long way to go…

She also said that what was making me feel bad could be viewed as the same as what made me feel good only a short time ago. ‘I’m an individual, creating my own life’ had become ‘I’m different and I don’t fit in’. ‘I like the fact that I’m an introvert, and have something different to offer’ became ‘I have difficulty relating to people, and I feel alone’. Even ‘I’m happy to be putting myself and my sobriety first’ was starting to feel like ‘am I being awkward for the sake of it – shall I just jack this in now and save a load of bother?’!!!!

Something else that helped (eventually) was that I managed to talk properly to my husband. One day last week he had a VERY bad day, and was extremely low as a result. He is not normally one to dwell on problems, but this really affected him. I was upset for him, but I was also hurting too. I wondered if, when I had the chance to talk to him properly later that day, he would be more able to understand me because he now needed empathy himself. As it turned out, we were able to listen to each other and reconnect. I don’t feel quite so alone now 🙂

So. My counsellor said that I did the right thing. I was down in the hole, and it did feel terrible at the time, but somehow I knew how to get myself out. That is SO ENCOURAGING I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel! Having been in the hole of depression quite a few times now over the years, knowing that I don’t have to fear being there for too long because I am starting to recognise what I need to do to get out…well, it means I now know myself better, I have made progress and grown.

Another point that we touched on was the idea of choice. It’s my choice whether I perceive myself to be happy as an individual, or to feel awkward and like I don’t fit in, etc etc. But…I did say in my last post I think, that there are some ways in which I think I’ve changed, since becoming sober. Whereas when drinking, I would have been quite ‘happy’ (inverted commas because I wasn’t truly happy!) to go out drinking more or less anywhere with our friends, without the alcohol I don’t feel particularly inclined to spend my time that way. I also seem to end up feeling even more unsure of myself than I would have done after a social event whilst drinking, which is REALLY saying something!! So maybe I should start exercising some of that power to choose. Instead of pushing myself every time to attend, thinking it will get better the more I do it, maybe I ought to just not do those things that don’t make me feel good?

I’m starting to confuse myself. I don’t think my counsellor meant for me to avoid things rather than deal with them. What she did say though, was that the problems start to arise when I over-think things (AH! Husband was right, how can this be??!! 🙂 ). So the way to make my choice is to listen to how I feel. Not what I think.

Now I’m feeling better, and able to get my head around all this, it might be a good time to listen again to the Tara Brach talks on happiness that Lisa sent me (thanks Lisa!). Here is Part 1, and Part 2, if you fancy a listen 🙂

Happy Saturday 😀 x

Sober plateau?

On Saturday night I went out for a meal with my husband and good friends of ours. Beforehand I was still anxious about not being committed to a ‘challenge’, as I haven’t signed up for 180 days yet. I thought I might have been in danger of drinking.

But it was an unfounded fear, because I didn’t suddenly want wine – even when we went to the pub whilst waiting for our table. What I did find really difficult, as we were standing at the bar, was having to explain myself because I asked for a coke. AGAIN.

It may have been my own fault, for relying too heavily on the ‘100 day challenge’ explanation originally. (What IS that all about? I obviously have great difficulty telling anyone, including myself, that I just don’t drink!!).

It was mainly the woman of the couple we were out with, who was asking me why I wasn’t drinking. And she told me again that she doesn’t drink through the week. We were going over old ground, really.

Much later, after the meal, we went to another pub. Another of our friends saw that I was drinking coke and said ‘so you won’t be falling over tonight then?’ and I said nope, I was on coke, and she said ‘Oh how boring!’. She’d had a few herself, though so I don’t think she was actually trying to tell me I was boring, it was probably just because I clearly wouldn’t be joining in all the drunken fun.

Being out with all those people drinking was strange. Not because I wanted to drink, in the end, but because I didn’t see the appeal of it all. I couldn’t make myself heard over the music, so trying to have a conversation was a bit pointless. I just felt really out on a limb, to be honest.

The next day, I was wiped out. I felt low because it’s the wrong time of the month, which led to me brooding over the previous night. I didn’t feel very much connection – apart from in the restaurant maybe – with anyone. I’m feeling a bit lonely in my sober journey. I want to find my people. I have two, maybe three friends with whom I can talk about this kind of thing completely honestly, but I hardly ever see them. I guess there’s my answer – I need to create more connection with them.

I do feel good sober, but I’m also feeling a bit flat. If I was on a diet, this would be a ‘plateau’!

There are some social situations I don’t really want to be part of anymore, and I want to replace those with ones that resonate more with me. How to do that? This is all new, lonely, and a bit scary…. :/

if only sobriety was a magic wand

Yesterday, I went for lunch in the city with my friend who is expecting. We had a lovely time catching up on everything. I’m looking forward to her baby being born, her due date is three weeks away – not long now!

I’m not sure why, but today my mind has been going over and over unkind things people have said to me recently. It has made me feel vulnerable, and it feels like I’ve had to try extra hard to think instead about people who do like me, and have made me feel good about myself. I know I’m really the one who makes me feel good about myself at the end of the day, but sometimes it affects you more than others, doesn’t it, what people say.

Anyway, I also started to feel vulnerable about the infertility. That story about Robbie Williams dancing around whilst his wife was in labour – and posting it on social media – was really starting to get to me. I ended up doing what I haven’t done for quite a while, googling infertility blogs. And now the tears have started, and won’t stop.

I know I will be OK – sobriety has really helped with cushioning the lows. But I sometimes I just wish that sobriety would fix more things. I was doing so well recently, realising that I wanted some sense of clarity about this situation, rather than to feel pressured into trying for a baby just because of my own fears, or searching for worthiness in the wrong places. But it somehow feels as raw as ever right now. I feel crushed by the weight of it all.

If only being sober was a magic wand…For one tiny millisecond there, it felt like wine could have sweetened the bitterness in my mouth. But I know it won’t. And I will not be bitter. Surely that is one thing, at least, that I stand a good chance of being able to control as a result of not drinking.

It will be OK.

Pass!

If the criteria for being sober solely involves not drinking, then day 90 yesterday – which involved me being an all-day wedding guest – was a resounding success!

If, however, I were to grade my performance, I would give myself say, B-.

We arrived just after 1pm, and I drove us home at quarter past midnight. So I managed the whole day, Yay!! Go me!!

The ceremony was lovely, and whilst we were mingling afterwards, I had a cup of earl grey tea. I’d been advised to plan ahead what drinks to have, and wanted to have a nice cup of tea at some point. Chatted to friends of ours (the couple with the new baby – she was pregnant at our wedding, see this post), who were asking how the 100 days were going. They said did I feel like I was drinking too much, and I said well, one person’s version of drinking too much might be different than another’s. They then asked how much I would normally drink, and so I said ‘one or two glasses of wine per night’, and there was a sort of ‘oh yes that’s quite a lot’ feeling coming from them! ooof!

Another of our friends seemed obsessed with the idea that I could just lie about my alcohol consumption to the hundred days person (Belle). I really was stumped at this- all I could say was, ‘well what would be the point of me doing that?’. Bizarre…she and her partner had A LOT to drink!

I found it very hard to relate to the mother of the baby. Any sort of ‘getting along’ that was going on between us just sort of evaporated when I was left alone with her and the baby whilst our husbands wandered off for a bit. She made no real effort to talk to me, and I had no idea what to say, having no experience with babies, and wanting my own, which is only the very slimmest of possibilities currently. When they left she just said ‘see you’, and just about snubbed me when I went to kiss her on the cheek. She is the person who introduced all the cheek-kissing into our group of friends, so I was a bit surprised, but then she kind of turned back and presented her cheek. I really don’t know what to make of it all, and this morning I cried about it. (On the plus side, Mr W thinks their baby is gorgeous and is now the most positive he has been so far, that we should go for his operation and try to have our own).

Another guy, made an effort to come over and speak to me about how the 100 days were going, and how I’d managed not drinking at the wedding. I said I was 10 days off 100 and I felt a lot better…not really decided what to do when I get there. He said his partner (I really love both of them by the way) suggested he should try no alcohol for a week every now and then, as he’s on a health kick for his Fire Service medical. He said he lasted about two days, so he thought what I was doing was impressive. He patted me on the back and said well done and that he was proud of me. I nearly burst into tears right then, it was such a lovely thing to say!

I spent a lot of time chatting to a friend of ours who doesn’t drink much at all. I explained after a while about being sober, and it was really great to talk to someone, and them just ask really reasonable and interested questions. She said that the culture of alcohol consumption that we have in this country is somewhat worrying when you stop to think about it. And there was none of the judging that I felt from the couple earlier on.

Apart from the tea I also had some of those Bottlegreen Pomegranate and Cranberry drinks, or whatever the flavours were. I lifted a glass of Prosecco for various toasts but not a drop passed my lips. And I had a ‘sunrise’ – my husband gets very into the idea of me drinking mocktails, so he bought me one without the tequila. Which was lovely.

I’m tired today – partly from the late night, and being ‘switched on’ all day. But also because of the anxiety – and hurt, I suppose – of feeling snubbed by our friend with the baby. But even then, I don’t think that I’m mulling it over half as much as I would have done, had I been drinking.

And I don’t have to worry about having done anything ridiculous. Any feelings I may have been having – happy or sad – were purely me. Nothing to do with having drunk a vat of wine. I’m glad I’m on the other side of it now. I suppose it’s one of those sober ‘firsts’, I now know what a wedding looks like, sans alcohol 😀

I’m trying to think of a brilliant treat for 90 days, and the accomplishment of this sober first. But for now, I shall turn my attentions to drinking a vat of tea.

I hope everyone is having a lovely sober Sunday out there.

Love, waking 🙂 x