Therapy, friends, and improving upon chaos

I started this post on Tuesday night and found myself simply incapable of completing it. Sometimes my brain gets overloaded and needs to finish processing, even though I feel like I am done processing. But last night I ran out of time and needed sleep more than to write and finish downloading my thoughts, but today things are much clearer.

I had an appointment with my therapist today. It was just my day for self-improvement appointments. We also had a lot to discuss.

Therapist M (TM) has been working with me off and on for several years, and we have gone round and round and round again about my trust issues. Let me just say I have grown a lot in this area through the time we have worked together, but there are miles to go before I sleep.

What has been interesting through the years is not so much how much I have changed so much as how much I have stayed the same, clinging to many patterns of behavior and legacy friendships. The criticisms I have been enduring about my training and lifestyle changes – these are nothing new. Years of history and pushing and pulling and conflicts and smoothing over and compromising to make things better to maintain the status quo and the friends I had cultivated and maintained.

Anyone who has ever had secrets understands the tricky stuff about keeping a big slice of your life under lockdown, never to leak out, never to be discussed, and unfortunately never forgotten. The fear and anxiety of being found out makes a girl kind of stupid about who she chooses as friends and allies. As a kid anyone who befriended me was troubled as well in different ways, yet like me, still had a lot of good qualities. Just their anger and aggression might be directed at a weaker link. As kids we would have our little kitten mixes (versus the full-on cat fights we get into every now and again). Years and years have passed. Marriages, children, divorces, remarriages, deaths. Our kids grew up, our parents have gotten older and frailer and many have passed on. Our lives have changed.

Yet many of my childhood friendships endure. For decades we have been attending holiday parties at family homes. First our parents, then each others as we grew up and acquired homes of our own. Years can pass without a single snarky comment exchanged. And then things change.

This time I am not needy or in pain or standing by waiting to be someone’s cheerleader, shoulder to lean upon, or whipping girl. I am simply doing good things for myself, stepping up and taking care of my health and trying to become the best version of myself. I do not preach or try to convert others to my way of thinking or to see my point of view. I simply want to be healthier and pose no threat to anyone.

Yet I am being criticized and it is cloaked as care and concern. Why would anyone feel threatened by my being healthier?

I have no idea, which makes me crazier than I already am. I want to understand, to know the why of it all.

TM challenges me to imagine life without these old friends, why it matters to me this much. Why I would trust their words to me more than my own instincts and feelings. Why do I allow myself to let their judgments and pettiness influence or even decide my esteem and value. Because in his view I am still stuck in that box and with all my childhood fears, anxieties, anger, and humiliation.

Maybe I am too afraid to let go and be freed from that part of my life?

That was a bit of a conversation stopper. It has been awhile since TM has approached this with me in this way, and every time it catches me off-guard and unawares. But in some ways it makes sense. I am seeking and working hard toward better health in all possible ways. I can be a physically healthy as possible yet cut off and dying a little inside from this very old trauma. While I can never get those years back and have done a lot of work, come a long way in healing that breach and having a successful, happy, balanced life, I have always known there is more to explore and more layers of bandaids to be cut away or ripped off quickly. It’s why I have an annual mental health checkup. It’s why I am back in the chair and talking about how to trust, actually like, and believe in myself more than the feedback I receive from external sources.

I hesitantly admit that maybe I am afraid to let go and be free. And it’s so hard to admit and the reasons behind it very complicated. There is a lot more work to be done in this area, and we touched upon it very sparingly today. Very. Sparingly.

For today, though, it was about where I have succeeded this last week. I was successful in my exercise pursuits. I ate pretty well, limiting myself to one very small piece of K’s birthday cake. Work is crazy and friends are crazier, but I am handling it well.

We talked in some detail about my handling my Hawaii friend – my actions, reactions, and how white-hot my anger. She said terrible things in our first conversation and was insulting, condescending, and downright cruel to me in response to my flatly stating that she was way out of line. I pulled no punches in response to that, and it was an ugly, raw, bare-knuckled fight. So unnecessary, really.

And here we are, on Wednesday, which I actually for a long minute thought might be Thursday and was wondering why I am so fogged out on training with J this morning. Well, because it’s Wednesday. I chatted with J this morning about food, completed my pre-determined sets of practice, and somehow completely forgot that there is little to write about for something that has not happened yet. Just a minor tangent of my particular brand of crazy day today at the office with a side of eat-drink-breathe protein changes blossoming in my head.

It is really foreign to me, but I am really starting to accept the conclusion that there are those in my life who do not wish me to implement positive changes or experience success in my health endeavors. In this specific case she is worse than a lifestyle saboteur and crossed over into lifestyle terrorist. Whatever is going on in her twisted mind and thinking, my success at reshaping my health is deeply threatening to her to the point that inciting my fury and ending our long friendship is preferable to letting me skip along my merry way across a great expanse of water neither of us cross very often.

And I absolutely do not get it.

Another pal put it into more understandable terms for me. Before we met them, she and her husband had tried for several years to conceive without success. They considered adoption and foster care, but for a variety of reasons they were hesitant to start that process. Now they are to the point where they will likely remain childless and enjoy their nieces and nephews instead. But when she was struggling with infertility, it seemed everyone she knew was getting pregnant easily and it was difficult to contain her jealousy and resentment. But hers was a genuine problem, not something she had any control over. It was not as if she could cease running, eat different food, and voila! she would be pregnant within a few months. To eat better, to exercise are conscious choices I am making, every single day. For those who are critical and unsupportive, it is likely they do not want any good examples of what could happen if they got off the couch and put down the donut. Or if they are already fit and healthy, they do not want any competition for the kudos and atta girls they enjoy.

TM said the same thing. Whatever issues the unsupportive in my life possess, those are not my issues and I need not accept their burden as my own to be resolved. If my goal is overall better health, I need to understand that it may include shedding some relationships as well as pounds and inches. And maybe like I do not want to look at the scale or track food, I need to release the idea of maintaining all the same relationships that have endured while I have been unhealthy and making less desirable choices.

If the relationship is not contributing to the long-term solution I am seeking, perhaps it is an ingredient to the initial problem I am now working to resolve. It does not make me more or less of a person to have outgrown or changed to the point that I am no longer close to or have much in common with old friends. It is another standard of measure I am unconsciously using to grade and find myself worthy.

I have been chewing on that since yesterday and I can see his point. I do not necessarily like it right now, but I can at least view it objectively and without the emotional veil clouding my judgment. And I can see why he pressed it to ensure I could see it and feel it yesterday.

There is nothing on the immediate agenda I need to act upon, but it is in my mind for acting upon or reacting to future commentary that feels wrong. While my hope is that it not come up again or be pressed further, I suspect it will get worse as I start wrangling with my diet refinements to shed fat and build more muscle and strength. Or I could be pleasantly surprised.

For every friend I comment upon here in the blog for unkind or unsupportive comments, there are probably 2 or 3 more that are enthusiastic and encouraging and celebratory for my accomplishments big and small. I do not like to imagine myself taking them for granted, because I certainly do not; their kindness and support mean the world to me. However, it is more in line with my behaviors and seems normal, typical of how someone reacts when a friend says they have reduced diabetes medication or are more capable in the gym than they were 6 months ago. I cannot imagine saying unkind things about anyone assisting them in their endeavors or about their methodology for reaching their objectives, even if the methods or the objectives are very different than my own.

But that’s me. I am far more invisible nerdy girl than attention-seeking mean girl.

In clothing styles I like and am drawn to, one size does not fit all or even most. Health and fitness is the same way. For me, it will be respected as a unique and individual journey for each of us. Hopefully I will continue to strengthen my spine and ability to stand tall in the face of disagreements and the unhelpful, non-supportive commentary that seems to come my way.

Or I will simply stop caring. Ideally, permanently breaking my give-a-shit in this area would be for the best.

2 thoughts on “Therapy, friends, and improving upon chaos

  1. This: “Maybe I am too afraid to let go and be freed from that part of my life?”

    Who would you be if you weren’t tied to that part of your life?

    It is scary – because it is a big unknown without your usual reference points and behaviors to fall back on. There have been times when I think if I can’t eat to suppress my feelings – wtf am I supposed to do? Deal with them? Oh hell – pass the chips.

    Many many years ago I cut out all contact with remaining family members and some old friends. People who could only see me as who I was and not who I was trying to become. But some of my friends today are like this now – not comfortable with who I am trying to become and reminding me of who I was and why I can’t/won’t be successful.

    Sounds like you have lots to think about before your next session. Good luck you are super brave.

    Hope you have a good session with J tomorrow!

    • Insightful question about who would I be? And that really IS the question for me right now. And I think the answer is – I would be okay, possibly even better. Growing up is so difficult to do!

      I don’t know that I’m so brave, SAK, so much as this is so necessary to get where I desire to be next. As challenging as it was Tuesday to scrape away and pick this apart, it makes yesterday and today and probably tomorrow a much more peaceful place. Letting go is not easy, but in my case, it seems like hanging on is going to be worse. We shall see how else it unfolds.

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