The California sun and the kava bar

Sleep is a glorious thing. I love my sleep. I especially love my sleep when I go to bed at a reasonable hour and have a deep and dreamless night.

The Very Bad Incident is now a few weeks past, and I am settling down once more. I am still bothered by moments of survivor’s guilt, but mostly I am selfishly thankful to be the one who escaped without harm.

Meeting with TM yesterday was emotionally explosive, with this torrential rush of angry, upset, teary, angsty, guilty words pouring out of me. It was probably for the best. While I would never characterize myself as one who bottles up feelings anymore, I suppose a lifetime of habits are difficult to break completely.

While I do not necessarily see myself changing dramatically, it is truly the subtle stuff that is apparently tripping me up. I am growing more confident, and in that I am more assertive about pushing back when standing up for myself and honoring my feelings. I have to say I hate that expression – honoring my feelings. It sounds so cliche and kitschy. But perhaps terms become cliches and kitschy for good reason, in that they are an accurate description of what does or should happen for all of us.

I also do not see myself as pushing back. There are times when I have felt inappropriately angry or upset when considering the circumstances and expressing that as calmly as possible, yet talking about it yesterday makes it clear that my reactions are entirely within the realm of normal for me. More importantly: “normal for me” is within or at least not far out of the range of emotionally healthy individuals. I was angry and upset, and I had good reasons for those feelings. However, while I did not want to pile on with the most recent offender, I did as calmly and rationally as possible explain to her that I am THIS upset and that the consequences, while truly unknown at this moment in time, could conceivably be dire. Whereas even 6 months ago I would have been a lot more squishy on the subject. I would have forgiven and pushed it down and continued as if it had never happened.

Which is precisely what people are accustomed to receiving from me. I express my discontent, I forgive and then I compartmentalize and forget about it, until it happens again, then it’s rinse and repeat into infinity. Now, maybe not so much. I want to give myself room to be okay with the most recent offense, that was a thoughtless mistake that hopefully does not repeat, but to be prepared with harsher consequences if it should. But as TM (and every other voice of reason in my realm) also points out to me, if does not make me a horrible human being if I cannot rebuild trust after it has been broken. Someone who knows more of my history now should be more careful of they say to me, and while mistakes do happen, it would be understandable if I cannot grow back to what we once had.

That makes sense to me. Finally.

Years ago when M and I had this terrible marriage breakdown, I truly had to give him a big giant pass for some of his behaviors because he did not know who I was and what I had experienced as a kid. He had absolutely no idea because at that time I never talked about it. Ever. Except in a therapeutic environment where the other party was sworn to not share with anyone. And I was not yet to the point where I was having these annual check-in, tune-up my mental health appointments. When I told M, finally, he was understandably angry with me, and I had a really hard time with that. It took months of marriage counseling appointments where I felt as if I were under attack to drag the whole story out of me, but it was stuff that needed to be said for M to truly understand and for me to heal and to forgive and for us to heal our broken marriage. I think TM and the other professionals we consulted and worked with at that time earned every dollar we and our insurance company paid them, because it certainly was not a simple or easy marital reconciliation. But I learned a lot, grew up a lot, during that transitional period, and the end result is a happy life with M. Nothing is perfect, but we remain in love and in a stable, solid marriage.

I believe the same sort of life-altering transition could be true for me now. The exercise is part of it, sure. But along with my incremental improvements in my physical abilities comes a correlating confidence and strengthening of my mental and emotional health. It is somewhat unexpected, but it is a real thing for me. Maybe everyone who decides to learn how to exercise or undertakes the steps necessary to increase their fitness and improve their health goes through this, or maybe one comes before the other. Or I could be extending my normal range of navel gazing beyond the typical to feel like my stuff is within the spectrum of normality. No matter. It’s a thing for me. I am dealing with it.

Vast majority of my/our friends are hugely supportive. They chide me about being so rebellious with my dietician, because really, it is far more typical of someone suggesting I do something to help myself and I will automatically try to make it happen. Poor guy – he got assigned me just when I decide to be a petulant child about calorie counting and food tracking. But my anxiety about it is real – just ask J or even M about all my crap every time lunges or one leg anything came up in training for the longest time (and I still retain the right to periodic meltdowns over one leg anything into the future). I am learning to be more gracious and less doubtful about compliments and praise for my efforts, any positive efforts, setting aside any self-depreciating comments before they are expressed. Of course, I have this wide-eyed “I didn’t say [insert self-depreciating reply to compliment here]!” conversation after the fact, but hey, progress is progress.

The recent incidents are blips on the larger radar, but when it happens I am so baffled by the reactions I simply do not know what to say or how to cope. I certainly do not expect high praise or an atta-girl every time I master some exercise that vexes me for extended periods or manage a day when I eat right or fit into something else that has not fit over my hips in years, yet to have a close friend act like as if I am doing something wrong for the tiny steps forward is confusing to my uncomplicated mind. The equation for me works like this –

friend doing good things (exercise) and feeling better =
me being happy and proud of friend for taking positive steps.

What I have been getting from some surprising corners –

me doing good things (exercise, diet) and getting notably healthier =
friend(s) expressing concern about my behavior, one even going so far as to use analogy
that I have fallen into a cult and am experimenting with recreational drugs.

M rolls his eyes and suggested when it has happened that I tell them kindly, nicely, politely to f–k off and not express such ignorant and dumbass opinions. While I do truly appreciate his unwavering support and practical advice on the subject, I have yet to successfully envision myself saying that to someone in a kind, nice, polite manner and have it be received as such.

And all too often feel as if I am the crazy one.

But this too shall pass. Everyone has their own stuff going on behind the scenes and influencing their attitudes and behaviors, and I certainly cannot pretend to know every detail or every single thing going on in their lives. I do know that my creating and enforcing stronger boundaries is an issue for a select few, but we will either work it out or we will not. TM helped me to recognize that the problem is not me or anything new I am doing, so much as it is with them being unable to accept the new, positive challenges I am undertaking. Relationships do change as we grow, and sometimes they run their course because we grow.

After my appointment with TM yesterday, I met K at the kava bar where we proceeded to have one of those bonding future cool mother-in-law/daughter-in-law conversations about life, work, therapy, and family issues. The kava drinks certainly do not hinder such free-flowing exchanges, but really, it’s just us letting our hair down and talking like normal women. I did not have this kind of close bond with my mothers-in-law, either of them, although I do love and adore my kids’ maternal grandmother. But I really value the relationships with my kids, all of them, and I am glad my future daughter-in-law wants to hang out with me as frequently as we do. By the time we left the shop I was pleasantly relaxed; the effects of those kava drinks should not be underestimated.

From there I came home, extra cups in hand for M and for J, since I had previously decided to go to the gym to try and burn off some of my negativity as well as further process my session with TM. M had already left for his Tuesday night with the guys, so J got the benefit of 2 cups of tea and a bag of kava that I picked up for him while I was in the shop. I have to say – the gym on a busy Tuesday with kava in my system was really, really good and the abundance of people everywhere did not bother me at all. I burned through my upper body sets and felt great about my efforts. Even the lower body stuff, with a couple of presently vexing items on it, was kind of a zen experience. I am remembering now why K likes kava for nights when she cannot get her brain to shutdown so she can get some rest.

The only disturbing thing was right at the end, when another member donned these hard plastic ankle cuff things and proceeded to hang upside down from the TRX rack right in front of me. My imaginings of Very Bad Things that could happen was simply too much, overwhelming my kava-assisted relaxed feeling and kicking up my anxiety. M has an inversion table; I have watched him hang upside down on it dozens of times. But there was something about those ankle bootie cuff things and hanging from he TRX rack that truly disturbed me; brain refused to obey my commands and bannish visions of that man falling on his head and breaking his neck. I finished my set and got the heck out of Dodge.

The weather here in northern California has been lovely this week, like spring already here with the sun and pleasant temperatures. It suits my mood today, this sunshine and tulips (as seen in the grocery store where I acquired a sandwich for lunch). I woke up this morning and my first thought was about how great of a day it is going to be today. I had a rare before 8 a.m.. meeting, so I had to keep my workout compact and efficient. Having endured enjoyed a double workout day yesterday, it felt like going shorter than usual in my efforts was okay this morning – no guilt required. Still, I felt really good when I was done. I kind of regret not having time to do my usual round/set counts, but regret is definitely a different feeling than guilt. And I find myself marveling at that statement: regret that I did not have more time to spend at the gym doing more of my selected sequences from the current List? Who are you and what have you done with the real me?

My oh my how things have changed.

Today restarts the 5 days on my food tracking for the long-suffering dietician. I have figured out my plan and am uploading my food pictures and naming them with day and time consumed, so I can tell them apart. I eat so much of the same things, day after day after day, it could get hard to distinguish one day from the next. But I got this; it’s only 5 days and I can do it. Maybe I don’t really WANT to, but I can do it.

I am just wondering how to photograph and describe the kava drinks tomorrow. My crew from my former firm is meeting over there after work and invited me, so I am looking forward to hanging out and catching up with them. I wonder if the dietician is familiar with this place? It was funny last night, because I have not been over there in awhile, and the guy manning the counter noted that it has been awhile since he’s seen me, while greeting K by name (she and G visit fairly regularly).

Despite the emotional volatility of this week thus far, I feel pretty well braced and as if I have weathered fairly well. I did nothing stupid. In a text exchange yesterday J advised me to “listen to my body” and do whatever it wanted/needed to regain balance. I replied that throwing things seemed childish, so I had to say no. Eating junky food (and OMG those caramel brownies were nearly my undoing) was a bad idea, so I had to say no. The kava he suggested was actually a great idea, so I went with that and then some exercise. Both good-for-me choices for which I have no regrets.

It is a truly great and sunny day in my neighborhood. Positive progress and good choices are very good things, worthy of minor celebration. If I could just purge my mind of the idea of cheeseburgers … well, I suppose there is no such thing as a perfect day.

Happy Wednesday everyone! And so sorry about all the recent theme changes in case anyone noticed – I did something stupid (still no idea precisely what, but oh well) yesterday and could not find my former theme. But this should be it for awhile to come.

 

 

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