Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 1)

Morning my friends!

Many thanks to all of you who take time to give me insight and advice. I always love the feedback, I never construe it as negative and, in general, unless you are consistently poking at me, I don’t take any offense.

In particular, Jana’s comment from last week resonated with me and I had vacillated between replying directly to Jana’s comment and writing a post reply.

Obviously the post reply won.

First and foremost Jana, thank you. I always appreciate everyone (my whole tribe of faithfuls: KDaddy, Sassy, Morava, Gone, Nich, Maggie, Ann, NBrat) who takes their own time to thoughtfully comment on my blog. It means a lot to me.

So here goes – not everything is in direct response to Jana’s post, but it’s where the seeds were planted for this post.

Quite some time ago, someone on my blog identified anxious attachment syndrome. The first time I heard that on my blog I didn’t know what it was, so I did some research. There is no question I have anxious attachment. Much later, when I went to my therapist, it was one of the first things she identified and wanted me to work on getting back to my inner child so I could determine why and where the anxious attachment syndrome started. I didn’t want to do that work with her at the time. My focus with her then was all about healing, letting go of Tony, learning to be a better parent and building back my confidence. We didn’t ignore the fact that my inner child was crying for help, we did talk about root cause often, but I struggled – and still do – with therapy that makes you go back to childhood to view situations you can not change. Especially when it involves my dead Mother. I do not want to change my perception of my mother because I can no longer discuss any of it with my mother.

I know I am not willing and not ready to take this backwards view. I may never be.

My therapist and I spoke about that. Would I forever be damaged if I didn’t find the roots and forgive myself and the people around me for why I developed anxious attachment? Would I be able to forgive a depressed and anxious birth mother for being miserable her entire pregnancy and affecting my gestational period? Would I be able to forgive my father for loving my mother So obsessively he accepted the fact she wanted children or she would leave him, so he conceded but had no desire to actually raise a family? Would I forgive my mother for the fact that she gave up her life to deal with a depressed and mentally unstable and demanding mother as well as a hyperactive child (who in the 70s was undiagnosed and considered “bad”). Can I forgive them?

Yes. I have already forgiven all of them.

Do I want to think about and try to better understand how those forces built an anxious attachment in me that was created in childhood and then cultivated over 22 more adult years in marriage?

No. I don’t.

I know I have anxious attachment syndrome. But I also believe, as did my therapist, I don’t have to go back to move forward.

I do have to learn my triggers, understand the signals my body gives me and stop neglecting the small voice that says “you are not enough and you deserve less”. Or, more often, “you’ve done something wrong.”

I think, if nothing else has ever come across clearly on my blog – the one thing that has always cut through is my direct and transparent honest about myself.

With that said, this blog is an actual real time blog. I blog entirely top of mind and you all get to look first hand at my craziness, happiness, depression, anger, joy, elation, confusion and frustration. I put it ALL right here in the best words I can find to share with you. I don’t edit myself. I write what I think and how I feel.

Does it come across as desperate many times? Yes.

I am not exactly desperate anymore. I’m sure of this. Do my words sound that way? Sure, I can see that.

But you get a birds eye view of how my mind is churning through every available path and avenue. The choices I can make. The roads I should and definitely should not travel. You’ve seen where Trixie (and her friend Tricia) live. You watch me fold and unfold and refold the same towel a thousand times – fueled by my nervous anxiety.

I felt I needed to be clear about where I am today. I am in a better place than I’ve ever been in my life. My life has taken the best path since February 11th, 200 days ago. I am a drug addict, I have to count the days my head stays straight on my shoulders and I continue to make better choices for myself. I know this.

Right now, I do not believe any man is going to derail me. Do I get sad and frustrated and angry and write about it in the moment? Yes, I do. Because you help me suss out things I didn’t want to see when I wrote the post. Coming back to the comments is like revisiting the crime scene. I have to go through the action again (in my head) in order to reply to thoughtful comments. When I do especially “bad” things – I write about it because it’s the last way I have to hold myself accountable. It reminds me I wasn’t listening to my better senses.

I loved my therapist. I think she did an amazing job in the time we had. I was a big fucking nut to crack in under 4 months. She cut across and gave me tools to manage my family, Tony, getting back to work and developing new relationships. I wish I had more time with her but – as life is – I don’t have the time or money to see a therapist. In place of that, I’ve been educating myself and consuming self-help books by the handfuls, like MMs. It would be ideal to have the resources I needed to stay in therapy for a good long while. It’s just not going to happen right now in my life. I have time for one dedicated “activity” outside of work – my choice is fitness over mental health (assuming there was a therapist who worked in the evening or weekends). This is my choice in life. I’ve learned not to swallow a whale right now. Trying to fit any more in (structure) is going to be too stressful for me. Therapy shouldn’t be stressful. But trying to find the time and money right now would cause even more anxiety. I am fully comfortable with my choice.

There are two very divided schools of thought about how to manage anxious attachment. I always thought this to be be super interesting because the tactics are so opposite one another. And you all definitely reflected the two schools of thought in the comments!

One thought is figure out how to love yourself first.

But the other is – practice. Date as many people as you can and practice identifying and managing the anxious attachment.

Do I love myself? I’m trying. I’m absolutely in the best place I’ve ever been. I consciously work on positive self talk and creating good habits. I will probably always struggle with some form of “I’m wrong, I’m not good enough or please love me and don’t leave me” but I am working on my three worst fears that create my anxiety. Am I desperate? No. I’m not. I experience desperation and rejection within the dating scene, but I am not desperate. I can be alone. I have filled my life with healthy and happy people and habits.

So, along with the agreement of my therapist, we discussed allowing me to practice managing the anxiety through dating. If it became overwhelming I was to stop. And I did – for short periods – if it wasn’t serving me. And now, twice in 200 days I had two back to back events I wrote about that got my goat and I became frustrated. I experienced the anxious attachment in its full form and for the first time in my life I RECOGNIZED my behavior and subsequently controlled it.

That’s a win in my book.

Should it be controlled from the start? Yes! I hope to make that happen. But in the meantime, I’m super proud I had maybe 2 24 hour periods where I worked through it and acknowledged what I felt. I sat with it.

post script: somehow, half this post was cut off and lost. I will try and re-create the second half tomorrow so I can address what I’ve discovered about communication.

How to go Slow?

I don’t know how to do this. I know this. You know this.

I also know it’s something I need to learn now. As in right now.

I have a potentially good thing right in front of me with Mike. I want it to stay that way without overwhelming it with intensity. Any good relationship I know, that lasts, doesn’t start in flames.

Is it already too late?

I question if I have ever had a normal relationship. Something I haven’t forced forward or have forced upon me – because of one or the others passions, jealousy or expectation. It’s sort of frightening as I think about it.

I just want normal. Like really normal. I’m not saying Mike has to be my forever or even long term. I just want a nice guy to date. something that looks like: He likes me, I like him, there is a level of trust and commitment (unsure what that means exactly but feels like it means I can expect him to always call the next day kind of thing and not have to worry he suddenly disappears overnight).

I guess the situation with John affected me more than I realize. Not John himself, he’s utterly irrelevant. The fact I met a man I could envision dating nicely and I allowed it to get carried away too fast.

So, what have I done any differently this time? I still had a too-long first date. We had passionate sex on dates 1 and 2. And….that’s it. Not saying it’s right or wrong but that’s a short list of potential errors for me. I’m normally over my head before date 1.

What’s more important is what I’m NOT doing this time. Communication is at his pace, which can be erratic. Ok, fine. I don’t love it but I am going with the positive self-talk and telling myself “he WILL check in.” I am not revealing every crack and crevice of myself such as my sexual history (we had a brief talk, nothing in depth, I kept it light). No talk of my surgeries or breakdown. No talk of my x or any affairs. Nothing REALLY important. Nothing HEAVY.

I read something about “Baggage Bonding” which means bonding over your previous issues with marriage or relationships.

On the other hand. We had sex. Multiple times. Unprotected sex. That needs a conversation. I know I’m not having sex with anyone else. I suppose I can simply say to him “wrap it up” if you plan to be having sex with others? He has repeatedly said he doesn’t want more than one woman. I don’t take that at face-value because I don’t KNOW him well enough. He may even mean it. But it’s too soon to expect he knows it’s what he wants with me.

I keep repeating to myself: Keep it light, Madeline. Let it develop naturally. Let it be healthy. Mike doesn’t need to satiate some deep hole within my soul, he is a lovely addition to a currently calm and balanced life. I’m doing my own soul work and I’ve been pretty successful in the past 6 months.

But how do you do this after you’ve had such hot sex the first two dates? How do you also get the simmer? Have I already jeopardized it?

I read some articles that all say “have a serious discussion” but this seems pushy to me. I don’t think I want a serious discussion, I just want to know if he wants more, or not. I don’t know how to ask.

And maybe all of it’s in my head and I’m already thinking too forward too fast.

I really just want to get it right for once.

Awakening

Career.

This has been the hardest piece of the puzzle to begin to piece back together.

Funny, because I thought it would be easier than mending my broken heart and mind because it’s where all my strength and confidence stem from. But that isn’t the case.

I didn’t even begin to pull myself together with any seriousness until January into February. I worked closely with the outplacement group and I committed to a once-a-week call with my coach. There was always homework, and while sometimes I didn’t do it until right before the next phone call, I always did it. I surprised myself by finding the coaching supremely helpful in getting my thoughts organized for the job search. There were definitely high points.

I started looking but never fully invested myself. If I was truly networking, it should have been a lot harder than it was. I was taking the easy way out.

There may be a reason for that.

In 2016 when I lost my previous role, I had a dream that everything was going to be ok. I would find a fabulous job and I would hire my own team. The role would just come to me. And…it sure did. Just like I dreamed. I thought I literally found my dream job.

Fast forward to 2018 and the dream job had turned into my worst nightmare. I truly cringe when I think about the year of 2018 in that role. I so desperately wanted to prove myself, prove to my boss he was stupid for letting me go, prove to myself I wasn’t the dumb kid and was worthy of my title. I didn’t realize how badly his snide comments had damaged my normally confident work-self. That hadn’t happened to me before. Work had been my safe zone where I knew I performed. I knew I was good and I knew I could learn and adapt to any challenge thrown my way.

By the time I left that role I was emotionally crippled with the trifecta that year: breakup, job loss, and kid issues. It couldn’t have gotten any worse? Or could it? I took myself to Mexico with a death wish…so, yes, I made it worse.

In any case, I digress, I was explaining why I don’t think I properly invest in my networking. My 2016 job came to me out of the blue, as the two roles I held before that. I never worked “that” hard at networking. Things seemingly fell into my lap.

But this time I didn’t have a dream that told me things would be ok. This time there was no vision or confidence that I would secure my next best role. This time I was scared.

So the only thing I chose to do was to work on myself. The job search became mostly neglected. I set myself up financially to make it though the summer and had started to accept I would be out of work that long. I didn’t drop the search entirely, if there was a low-hanging fruit I picked it. I didn’t chase anything.

And, it happened organically, again. The same way it did before. Someone who knew me and respected me told someone else I was looking for a role and would be perfect for their open role. I had a couple interviews. I secured a full time freelance role. It’s only a 6 month role for half my salary but anything is better than unemployment. The company is on my top 5 list to work for. The department lead knows me for many years and likes me. It was a great opportunity. There are also some full time career roles I’m in the midst of – very similar to my last. Part of that frightens me because it’s hard to imagine jumping back into a frying pan full of hot oil, but the other part knows I am made for those roles and they come few and far between. I’m trying to remain on the positive side and see how they pan out.

So, back to work Monday I go. Am I ready? Probably not. I’m still way too tired all the damn time. My brain isn’t firing at full speed just yet. But I’m going to need to make it work as I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

9 months was a long recovery period. I never thought I would have this time in my life but I am glad I had as much as I did. Time to refill the coffers and get back to reality. The challenge is keeping the peace and balance I have found inside myself when the world is spinning out of control around me.

Space to Breathe

Giving myself space to breathe is a really tough thing for me to do.

Why?

Because I laid in a bed or on a couch and stared at a wall or nonsense TV for 5 months straight. FIVE MONTHS.

I am seriously terrified my brain will talk me into going there again. Giving up. I equate rest with giving up now. I know that’s not a logical thought but that’s the thought.

I am trying to rewrite that thought because your body needs rest and recovery time to heal from intense workouts. I have started to change my body significantly, I can see the muscles and I know how much stronger I am.  I need to slow down before I burn myself out. Also, I’m still dropping weight and figuring out the right nutritional balance – I am in just the right place now to make changes for the NEXT 100 day commitment.

So here’s what I’m doing to try and get out of my own head as it relates to exercise:

1. Calendar Commitments

Write out my minimum exercise routine: duration, frequency and type. Buy a calendar and put in in writing so I can physically see it every day. It can be adjusted as necessary (it will be in pencil) but start with the schedule as planned. Make sure to include high intensity days as well as running.  Adjust every 2 weeks as necessary but try to keep a routine.

I joined a few challenges within my Peloton tribe and I won’t embarrass myself by not sticking with them – the only one I’m challenged with currently is finding more time to add in yoga. I may take off a cardio day and do yoga instead.

One of the goals I am committed to is my sisters wedding in November. I want fabulous arm definition by then and I have plenty of time to make that happen.

Track another 100 days. and commit to a consistent routine within that time.

My sons birthday is the 100 day mark – October 1st.  It seems years away at this point when I am only 7 days in!

2. Recover

Allow myself recovery time. Decide if there are actual off days that include only meditation or yoga and active recovery days that include walking or a low impact ride. Stop the guilt.

Summer is here and there will be days away from the bike, plan for them now.  I know I can’t commit to the bike or tread for the next 100 days, but I can commit to a Peloton activity on the app.

Don’t beat yourself up over missed days when your body or mind need them. On day 105 when I was being lazy (Memorial Day) I got on the bike and 10 mins in, I clipped out for the first time ever. I just didn’t want to. Tomorrow is another day. The difference now is that tomorrow will be a hard work day, period. No excuses. I know I will do this so I forgave myself the rest.

Did I have a good reason to rest on Monday? Not so much. I had been on a beach vacation and exercised a bit each day. Nothing intense but I didn’t skip. When I came home I just wanted the day off even though I didn’t have anything special to do. I took the rest day and just decided I didn’t feel guilty about it. I wrote some blog posts instead! I already know which exercises I have to accomplish for tomorrow and I don’t have anything special on deck, so I will get right back on track.

It’s the thinking I have to change.  I did get on the bike and clipped in, and rode for 10 mins.  I would have been better served doing 10 mins of restorative Yoga.

Why is this such a issue? Because I told myself I would do better month over month. In my head, better meant more time and more miles March and April were like beast mode for me so when I looked at May, I was instantly disappointed with my time and mileage because it was so much lower. I need to acknowledge that my output (strength) was higher, so I am getting stronger in each workout even if there are less workouts. I am still angry at myself for May though, so I better dig deep to find the right balance that I am not chastising myself over at the end of the month.

So this is a tough one, commit to 100 days AND commit to resting when my body needs to rest.  Finding this balance is going to be tough for me as I tend to be all or nothing.

3. Practice

Meditate several nights a week and continue reading or listening to self-help books. Begin to reduce useless social media scrolling or limit it to coffee time in morning.

Encourage others as you like to be encouraged – that means intentionally posting positive vibes in my group pages and participating in group events on the Peloton. This was such a positive experience for me in my first 100 days I don’t want to let it slide!

Practice being positive with the kids – how can they benefit from what I’ve learned without thinking it’s totally corny? Practice keeping my cool but still getting them to do what needs to be done in their lives. Learn how to partner with them.

Forcing myself back to reading or listening to self-help books is a good addition in the next 100 days.  I had fallen into way to much social media.  I do consider my Peloton social media to count as self-help because it’s all positivity and exercise centric.  Reading about others real life challenges and successes is very motivating and reminds me I have a massive tribe behind me.

 

So, thats the next 100 days….I believe I am committed to do it!  It will be interesting to see what tricks my mind is going to play when I get back to work – which I expect to happen before the end of June, at least a freelance role.  I think thats’ my next biggest challenge up ahead.

Hey, Slim

A funny thing happened walking in the city the other day.

A stranger called after me “Hey, Slim” and I knew he was talking to me, but still questioned what he was calling me. When I turned to look at him and he said “looking good, slim” I had a little moment.

I smiled, nodded my head and kept walking. I skipped a little. Me? Slim? Oh hell yes!

It stuck in my head all day that someone called ME slim. Talk about a random boost of confidence.

That tiny little comment helped to free me from a bit of self flagellation about my past body image. I am slim. I am no longer fat. I have to let go of that image and all the negative connotations I attached to it. I have to place emphasis on my future because what’s in front of me is much brighter than what’s behind me.

It drew me out a little bit: I see a slimmer, sexier, brighter future. I’m past the bad and the negative that held me back. I now need to act on the new freedoms I’ve been given. No more binge watching, oversleeping, overeating, lazy habits that have consumed my life.

I’m getting my life back together and that one comment from a stranger made me realize that when I open myself to the possibilities around me, when I stop being led by my negative emotions and my past, I have already changed …. and I’m going to continue on the path(we all know there will be distractions, but they get less important to me every day).

It’s definitely been a month where I have had more self-acceptance than ever before in my life. I am literally starting to feel comfortable in my skin. It started with a good look in the mirror here and my commitment to the 100 days.

Part of me wonders why I have ALWAYS been so worried what others think of me. The therapist (as well as several of the self help books I’ve been reading) believe that the way I was raised in childhood created the lies I’ve told myself. My brain processes, first – before any other thought – “are you good enough? Probably not.” Why I do that I never really uncovered. I know for a fact I never felt good enough for my father but there were many, many times my mother supported me but I suppose the times she didn’t support me (as I was, not how she needed me to be) I continually felt challenged to be be better than I was. There just have been more negative reinforcement than positive reinforcement in my childhood. I have a hard time accepting that because my mom is no longer here to speak to. However, I realize that regardless of HOW I became this way, only I can change this script and start my own positive reinforcement.

My goal this week is to write about the change of heart and mind I’ve been experiencing this month and how I got there. Even I’m surprised – but the simple fact was I took one small action and held myself accountable to complete that one action every day. The commitment I made to myself was 100 days and I can’t believe I fulfilled it, but I did.

I haven’t done as much exercise as I did in March and April, I did slow down, but I have exercised my brain a lot more this month. I did give myself more rest and space this month – but not lazy, lay on the couch days…just less aggressive exercise days. I feel like pieces are falling into place finally and I’m getting a better handle on what I can do to help myself in the future so I never give up on myself again.

My plan is to document my next steps for myself and see where the next 100 days take me. I’m already 7 days in!

No More Excuses – 100 Days of Action

I did it!

On Wednesday, May 22nd I completed 100 days of commitment to creating a healthier life. I beat myself up over 5/6 missed days, but the truth is, I never missed a day of trying – I may have meditated or done yoga those days because I wasn’t well, but I didn’t actually just skip a day entirely. In hindsight, it’s not the days I missed that I was worried about – it was not keeping my promise to myself.

I’ve been reading and listening to some great self-help books lately and one of the statements that stuck out to me was “why do you keep breaking promises to yourself?” I hate breaking a promise to anyone else, but I will give up on myself almost immediately. Well, that stops now. I am putting myself first – and while that might sound selfish to my children the fact is that if I care for myself well, then I can care for them better than I have been.

I have done a really poor job of taking care of myself. When things get rough, I bury myself under piles of work. It took being out of work for 9 months to realize how unhealthy that was. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor. Corporations don’t care. I was burning gas I didn’t have and they weren’t getting the best from me and my job took way too much of my family life from me. I can’t go back to change that now, but I sure can affect what happens go forward.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my 100 days. It’s actually quite simple, unfortunately. There really is no way around it – and not one person said any differently. Everyone’s advice was quite similar:

“You must take action to move forward. “

Sounds so practical, right?

You can’t get where you want to be by wishing for it. Or waiting for it. You have to put in the work. One foot in front of the other, just like that. Again, and again, and again.

“No one else can do it but you. “

No one gets you out of bed or off the couch every day. Only you can help yourself. Get up and get started, Lady. Every. Damn. Day. Show up for yourself.

“Build the habits, slowly, step by step.”

That was a big one. Finally releasing my big-old-type-A personality to do something slowly and steadily, Day after day. Not jumping right into 2 hours of exercise every single day forever, but building up to what felt right, and adding in more as I became stronger. Honestly, I have never been so surprised by waking up thinking: what am I going to do for my exercise today? Now it happens regularly and I feel off when I don’t exercise, even if it’s just a little, very day.

“Just do it. No secret sauce.”

Nike has it right. There is no other way. Stop letting your brain give you all the reasons not to do something and just do it.

“Practice Gratitude”

Wake up every day thankful you opened your eyes. You GET to do this, you don’t have to do this. Life is a privilege so start acting that way.

I needed to replace the negative thoughts with good ones. Consistently and repetitively. How did I do this? I practiced.

I reminded myself over and over.

Long ago, more than one person suggest I meditate. I tried it and blew it off as not for me. This time, I kept trying. I practiced meditation the same way I practice my exercise. I show up and try over and over. Some days I’m more distracted than others but practice makes progress and it’s sinking in. Meditation is simply a way to focus your mind.

I realize I have never actively trained my mind to focus quietly. Sure, I can focus on projects, peoples, conversations etc. I’m good at active focusing – actually I’m so good at it I get addicted and obsessed when I’m super interested. But this is different. This is learning to focus my mind, guide my thoughts, in a positive and purposeful way. I’m retraining my brain and that takes practice. It may take me forever, but hey, I’ve got all the time in the world!

I really like meditation when I let it work for me and concentrate on the guidance. I notice I can apply some of the practice when I’m not meditating – slow down and pay attention to what I’m feeling, where I’m feeling it, why did that feeling come up? If that emotion is not serving me purpose in that moment, I can attend to it later, but for now, learn to package it up and put it away so I can focus on whatever it is I should be focusing on. I also remind myself that my thoughts are not what define me – my actions are. So if I have negative thoughts, I must act with kindness and positive intent. In order to do that, I have to stop and think “is what I’m about to say or do going to be kind? Is it necessary? What do u want to accomplish and how am I going to hold myself accountable?”

I obviously cannot do this when I allow Trixie to get hold of a nuclear bomb and annihilate everything in the way. I need to do this in order to avoid ever getting to such an utter loss of self-control again. I will say one thing about Tony as it relates to this: I do not feel regret for telling his wife. I cannot exactly explain why I felt I “had” to do what I did – but that needed to happen for me for whatever reason. I am sorry it made it so I can never, ever reconnect with Tony again but there are times when I think that might be the reason I threw the nuclear bomb – so I COULD never reconnect with him. I’m not pleased with myself that I hurt a woman who never did anything to me, and part of me knew there was nothing I was going to say or do that would make her want to leave him. I’m not trying to make an excuse, just laying out my thought process. My goal is no more nuclear bombs ever in my life. For any reason.

I threw 3 of them last year. One to destroy my job, one to destroy that relationship and one to almost take my life. I never want to revisit that feeling again so it means I have to actively retrain my brain how to speak to me. That all started with my healthy and positive commitment to my 100 days journey.

So how did I complete my 100 day journey? I had a fabulous exercise day with Peloton with my favorite trainers. I publicized my ride on social media so I rode with many Pelo-peeps who support and encourage throughout the ride and my output was actually a personal record. I bought those huge Mylar number balloons for “100” and took a photo and posted it all over social media. And then, well then I went and got a tattoo! I had been thinking about it for a while so this was my gift to myself. I got the Sanskrit word for “strength” tattooed on my wrist. I never thought I would get a tattoo but I love it! I had polled my family and friends on several words that resonated with me and that’s the word they most closely associated with me. It hurt like crazy but it carries a lot of significance and meaning to me, and reminds me of the fire I walked through to get here.

Shut My Brain Off, Please. Obsessing.

Not sure that I ever shared this but the therapist I was with at the end of last year diagnosed me with OCD.

I had never been referred to as OCD before so spoke about it a long while. My x was a clear OCD and son is S2. They have the kind of OCD that relates to unseen germs, repetitive habits or people touching their things etc. Theirs is pretty physical obviously when you know them a little while. I was surprised, but not shocked when we spoke about my ability to obsess over things not going the way I want them to. I obsess on the thoughts and feel the need to take action.

We covered all the basic steps of how to circumnavigate the debilitating repetitive ruminations and how to break the cycle. I have actively engaged in doing this. I consciously stop when I begin to ruminate and distract my mind. When I cannot distract my mind, I engage in physical activity. I amp up the activity to higher heart rates where all I can concentrate on is the activity if I’m really struggling. This has worked well (enough) most times.

But, my killer time is bed time. When I lie down to sleep and my mind begins unwinding, it always (and I do mean always) unwinds right to Tony. I started bedtime meditation to help with this, so that I have to listen to the guided meditation and put away the rumination. Again, this mostly helps. Last night was a killer.

As I normally do, when I am obsessing on something I start researching how I can help myself. I found a simple technique I’m going to try this week. Ask myself some questions.

The first step when I get so stuck in a loop I can’t stop ruminating has always been to acknowledge that I fixating on something negative. This part I have down pat. I have a series of answers lined up, such as:

Remember he doesn’t want you

You deserve better

He is a liar and a cheat and you don’t want that

Generally, on a good day, I can stop there. But on a bad day or night, there is another voice that’s says:

How did he get on with his life?

What is his marriage like now?

Is he happy? Or would he just lie some more?

What happened after their DDay?

What did he say about me?

As you can see, none of that is relevant and doesn’t require any answers. It’s none of my business and he’s not my concern.

So, when I get here, my new tactic is to use this technique which involves asking yourself a series of questions and then answering them. The technique is simple and quick, requiring only a minute or two of my time: (pulled from Psychology Today)

Wherever you are, ask yourself the following questions.

  • If I had to guess, what is the exact temperature now (inside or outside, depending where you are)?
  • What is my body temperature like now? Do I feel a little cold, a little warm, or perfectly comfortable?
  • If I don’t make any noise, can I identify every single sound that I hear?
  • Outside, what is in the sky? Are there clouds? How would I describe what I see in the sky?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry am I?
  • If I could choose any dish right now to eat, I would choose….”

I’m sure, you got the idea. The value of this exercise is to distract my mind from any obsessive or upsetting thoughts and feelings I’m stuck in and to redirect my thinking to specific, tangible distraction-based questions by using my senses.

I can come up with my own questions.

The other method that I had researched a while back, but also don’t think I mentioned, is Mel Robbins “5 second rule.” This was so simple I actually didn’t try it for a while thinking it would never work but it does! I had initially read about this as related to how to put something into action, rather than stop action, but the theory works in reverse: (taken from MelRobbins.com)

What do you do?

Just start counting backwards to yourself: 5-4-3-2-1.

The counting will focus you on the goal or commitment and distract you from the worries, thoughts, and excuses in your mind.

As soon as you reach “1” – push yourself to move.

This is how you push yourself to do the hard stuff – the work that you don’t feel like doing, or you’re scared of doing, or you’re avoiding.

That’s it. 5 seconds is all it takes.

If you don’t act on an instinct within that 5 second window, that’s it. You’re not doing it.”

Rather than push myself to move (as above), stopping and counting down when I deep in rumination in order to refocus my thought is like an active recovery stage. It forces me to concentrate on the count and then move into a different thought.

I believe all the work I did with the therapist was good and showed me a lot of ways I can help myself while I can’t afford therapy. Putting these small changes into action isn’t difficult – the difficulty lies in repeating the techniques over and over and over until I’m no longer ruminating.

Frankly, sometimes I say to my mind “go ahead and obsess and lose sleep and get yourself upset because you’re too stubborn for me” I make myself crazy.

I have to think of some questions to ask myself that are simple, don’t require more hard thinking (like work thoughts) and would absolutely distract me.

On Being Thin

Sorry this story meanders a bit…I felt like I had so many bits to piece together….

It’s strange to write this, because I have been thin before in my life. At the risk of offending someone I have this belief that people who grew up thin have a different mindset than those who grew up heavy. I have always seen myself as a thin girl who did damage to herself by allowing herself to become fat.

I was thin, active, muscular and healthy thought my childhood and into my teens. I developed around age 15, a late bloomer, but didn’t start putting on weight until 18 due to hormonal issues (I’ve always had problems!)

I do not have a fat girl screw the world mentality. I’m not angry at all the thin girls and models. I do not have a love me at any size mantra. I wanted to be thin again. I felt better in every aspect of my life and I remember that feeling. Sure, there were times in the 180-200 pound range over the last 7-8 years in which I felt great too, but most of my adult life was over 210 pounds and I never had the confidence from my physique I felt I needed.

Perhaps, as with everything in age, we savor things as we get older. I want to live out my life thin, healthy and strong. I wanted to live in the feeling of being comfortable in a thin body.

I do find it very strange to be thin once again after 20 years. I don’t recall feeling like this, except around my wedding (when I was too thin).

My body has lost all its shape. My rib cage and hips are much more narrow now than they were in my teens into 20s. My college years were plump with ugly hair 🤣. I found a bit of physical positivity by 22 and was married by 26, so there wasn’t much time in there to really enjoy my newfound body positivity. I don’t think I paid enough attention to myself back then. I just don’t remember much about my body other than mostly being unhappy with it my entire life for one reason or another and always struggling to “get back to thin” after I turned 30.

Generally speaking, even when I was thin I still had abdominal scars from childhood surgeries as well as stretch marks as my breasts developed late and large

I read this is common for most woman, regardless of age, shape, weight or height. What a shame we waste so much time when we are young.

Anyway, I am thin now. People say too thin because I lost all my fullness. Nothing on me is round or shapely anymore. My bones come out in my neck and back. My shoulders are thin. I sort of see what they see, I look older. I don’t care much. I like being thin.

My closest friends as ask how I feel about myself and I tell them I feel fine. They think I can’t see how thin I’ve become. They ask me to stop losing weight.

I went for a full girls day of day shopping for the first time ever. My friend spent the time in each store with me to try on everything. She helped me pull an entire Spring into Summer wardrobe together on a pretty good budget. I was able to determine my size in various brands. I was much smaller than I had anticipated and a little shocked how my body had changed since December. My shape is settling in now.

It felt amazing to try clothes on. I could try on anything I saw that I liked. That’s never happened before. Things fit properly, even around my chest. Clothing looked good on me. Like, really good. I could wear my beautiful shoes with beautiful clothes now and make a striking figure.

I’ve been waiting to feel like this my whole life. I don’t think I had enough confidence in my 20s pre-marriage to feel powerful when dressed. I don’t even think I had identified my style. When I’m dressed I forget about the scars and hanging skin (other than that horrible chicken-skin under my arms, ah well, I’m working on that!) When I chose clothing I liked and saw things look good or not good on me – I was able to have choices. I was used to was to accepting whatever fit well enough and covered my flab which was limiting and expensive when I dressed well. This was actually enjoyable to see things flatter me and I loved trying on inexpensive clothing to compliment more expensive pieces to curate my style for the first time in my life.

Looking at myself every day in the mirror didn’t prepare me for the shopping experience. This was definitely a NSV (non scale victory) ranking up at the top. I truly enjoyed what many women have down their whole lives and I have shied away from.

Knowing I have the base to work with encourages me to keep working on my fitness and diet – I don’t feel defeated that I’m exercising and eating well with no results – I can see the results now. Yes, it started with surgery -but the last month or two have been my personal effort to hit my goals.

I’ve dropped a bit of weight quickly recently, most likely as my body was shocked from the exercise, lack of period, and the hospital visit and was holding onto water weight. I’m down to a solid 145 lbs now and would be happy to stay put here for good.

I don’t see what others might see – I don’t see “too thin” at least not yet. I don’t intend to drop more weight internationally. My goal was always 145-150 pounds and I believe it looks fine on my 5’8″ frame. I’m mostly a size M or 8. I believe as I continue to work with my weights and cardio I will develop muscle and look toned and that should help.

Surgery wasn’t a permanent fix. I still have my entire life ahead of me to maintain. I can’t allow myself to drop the new habits I’ve created, ever. Surgery gave me a tool, and a very powerful one, but it can still be mid-used. My goal is to always pay attention to myself now and create the body positivity I have been missing for so many years. Unfortunately, it was not a good trade-off getting thin at the expense of horrid scars and crippling sickness – but it’s done, I hit that reset button for better or worse – and I want to enjoy where I am without worrying about being “too” anything.

Once again in my life “I’m not right” for people. I know they are looking out for my best interest, but constantly hearing “you are disappearing” or “everyone thinks you’re too thin” just reinforces my old belief that I’m still not “good enough” for anyone.

PS: the photo is of the famous 1960s model Twiggy. She was 5’6″ (short for a Model) and weighed less than 100 pounds at times – so, no, I’m not that thin!

PPS: Here’s where I want to be (in my sexy dreams!). What’s scary is the poster writes “145 lbs sounds like a lot”. People really don’t understand women’s weight numbers as compared to appearance

68 Days of Me

68 days of commitment. I have worked out 68 days in a row and committed to improving my health and strength, and hopefully, as a by-product, my flabby hanging skin.

This week has been terrible for me. It’s the first week I just DON’T want to do it. It’s taken me nearly half the day to get off the couch. I even napped one day which I haven’t done in months (I try and avoid naps at all costs as I’m afraid one will lead to many). I found myself not doing anything in the mornings and then getting on a struggle bus to convince myself to do something on the afternoon.

Could it be because my son is on Spring Break and I’m out of the morning routine? Could something collapse so easily? Or is this just my psyche trying to win the war and push me back to lazy?

So far, the urge to shrug it off hasn’t succeeded.

I realize that anything, and I do mean anything, can screw up my day. I am so used to having allllll my time and a little schedule that I can manage. But as soon as you throw in any appointment or conflict, and my brain says: no workout today, woohoo!

But the fact is – I feel better after a workout. I have started running – which I really can’t believe – with a program called None 2 Run. I completed my second week and I actually enjoy it. It’s not easy for me, but I feel really good after my effort. I can only Run 45 seconds at a time right now, over 10-15 intervals, but that’s from nothing. I am thrilled with my progress.

I just wish my brain would stop sabotaging the one good thing I have accomplished for myself in many months. I need to create a pattern that I can find time and energy for a workout even when I’m working, I can’t continue to allow the sabotage to happen so easily. At some point I have to work again and before I do, I want the exercise routine to be ingrained and never to be replaced or erased.

I read the book Ann recommend called The Power of Habit and I notice that all of the health and fitness instructors I follow on social media also tout habit as the cornerstone to any healthy exercise regime. While everyone has different quotes on how long it take for a habit to stick, the book suggests (from their analysis) that its a minimum of 66 days to create a habit and potentially even longer.

I tend to agree with this because, at 68 days in, I THINK of exercise as something I WANT to fit in every day. No day passes without the conscious effort to exercise. However, my brain hasn’t programmed itself to say “this is a requirement, no day SHOULD pass without exercise.” If there is a way I can navigate around exercising, my brain is actively looking for it. For instance, last night I didn’t even start until post 8pm. That’s the latest yet. I was home all day. Just that one slip makes me nervous because it eeks in and then affects me the next day and the next. I still need to work on my self talk.

I want to form this habit. I am privileged that I CAN move the way I can and that I have my health back for the most part. I am getting stronger and I love it. I repeat to myself that it is no longer a negative – I can no longer say “I hate working out” – because that kind of negative self-talk is damaging. I reframe that thought into “I work out to feel good and become stronger.” I have to get the thought solid in my head that when I say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have time” that I am really saying “I don’t care about myself”.

No one is going to care for me if I don’t start working on improving my physical, mental and emotional self. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I need to stop saying “it’s not important” and always say “I am very important” until it’s not a forced decision. Until it comes naturally to WANT to take care of myself, first. Sitting on the couch being some sort of vegetable isn’t caring for myself.

So, 68 days in, some days come easier than others. Some, like this past week, are still forced out of me. When I really feel like I “can’t” I tell myself just to do a light, active recovery day. If I still feel like I “can’t” after a light active recovery, then I don’t. But honestly, most times I find once I get past the initial hurdle of getting started, the energy comes with the sweat and I can go on to do a decent workout.

I need to set my intention to change. I have thought about making a vision board. I think they are kind of hokey, but I’m willing to give it a try.

68 days more than I’ve ever done before. That’s some accomplishment. I need to keep reminding myself every single day that I’m doing the best thing for myself.

I Just Realized I’m Scared

Oh, I’ve just had a moment full of tears.

My tears don’t come easily these days. I know it’s the meds. I know those meds keep me pretty clamped down emotionally. I hate it but know it’s critical right now to keep me from any more Trixie antics.

At least I know when the tears come, they are very deeply seated emotions rising to the surface.

For the first time in a long, long time I cried for myself and not for Tony.

I had a date yesterday, which was lovely, and I will write about him, but we hit on two subjects (thankfully very briefly) that struck me so hard that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them.

The first was my own statement that I’m beginning to realize I am most likely undateable to the caliber of man I’m attracted to. That’s because I’ve been out of work for 7 months with no job opportunities in sight. I realize that’s very scary to a divorced man who may have had a family and wife who already took most of his livelihood

The second was his statement, that I come across as disinterested. He is right. I’m not only disinterest but detached. I’m sick of the dating game and all its nuance.

I had the gut feeling when we touched on these two subjects that I should be exploring this a bit more. That’s when I came to the realization that, at the core of these feelings is a feeling I am not accustomed to having: I’m scared to death.

I’m scared of so many things that the tears don’t stop as I write this.

I’m afraid I won’t find a job.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to find another “Tony”.

I’m afraid I will fail again at work and in relationship.

I’m afraid to leave home now that I’ve established routine for the boys.

I’m afraid my body is so ugly now that I can’t have sex.

I’m afraid of the continuous persistent feeling of being demotivated and absent.

I’m afraid of losing the material things I have gained.

I’m afraid I don’t want sex because maybe I’m in menopause. Im terrified of losing my sex drive but it’s gone for certain at the moment.

I’m afraid I’m going to give up the one healthy routine I have created because every day is still a battle of will to get moving. Even after 54 consecutive days.

I’m afraid of not being good enough – the core belief I have struggled with my entire life. I have failed at all my relationships and my recent job. I’m not what anyone wants because I am so broken.

Am I bitter and mean? Have my insides curdled? Have I dried up?

Exercise helps, but now I exercise to chase the boredom demons away and don’t do ANYTHING else. Sure it’s good for me, but it’s all I accomplish now. I joined all sorts of Peloton activity groups and cheer people on – a false attempt of motivation – are people really able to use these groups as springboards for motivators in lieu of having a real support community (physical people around you, not a virtual community) ? I try to immerse myself in their positivity, I put on the virtual game-face and join the challenges and activities, but I don’t FEEL anything.

I feel unhinged from everything. Floating.

I am still an empty, demotivated, decommissioned human.

I have been trying to move away from that place. Trying so very hard. But when I took a good look at myself from the outside, I realized that – even though I don’t spend all day on a couch – I am no different than I was back in November after coming home from the hospital.

All I’ve done is dress up an empty vessel – put on a game face – trying to fake it and hoping I make it.

The couch has now become replaced by exercise (ok thats positive ) but there is nothing else driving me. The deep abscess within me feels like an endless black hole of nothingness. I thought I found the edge and was pulling myself back over it, onto solid ground. But I’ve realized I haven’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever been truly scared before. Scared to move, scared to feel, scared to believe in anything ever again – myself included.