While I was busy watching the sky and waiting for falling shoes

We all know it takes an entire team of professionals and support staff to help me get along in life. I have a regular doctor, an endocrinologist doctor, a mental health doctor, a dietician, a personal trainer/coach, bosses, peers, clients, a spouse, a stable of close friends near and far, and a blog.

That’s a lot. Probably more than most people can even grasp how big and convoluted and complicated it gets at times. And I cannot imagine at this point who would get voted off the island. Unless perhaps me and my luggage? But that might require yet another team of professionals to load and haul away all my crap.

Anyway, it obviously takes a village and then some. Humpty Dumpty has nothing on me.

But it is so much better than it sounds when laid out like that. I can at least admit being a cottage industry that participates in the economic ballast of multiple professions, albeit in a small ways. That’s something, and it’s a good something. Today I am all about the good somethings in life.

Maybe Humpty Dumpty has nothing on me, but unlike HD, my king’s horses and king’s men (and women) are doing a fine job of helping put me back together again.

Because I do learn how to improve. Eventually. I have never wanted to stay broken forever, and every year, every little self-improvement project I have undertaken has glued a few more pieces back together again. I have never wanted to stand still, always mired in some greater or lesser state of fear and anxiety. In truth my problems and issues are small cakes when compared to others with genuine distress. Even if my stuff feels like a Very Big Deal to me in the moment.

Session today with TM went very well. I am actually not sure at this point if I am just in a very good mood or if something organic is altering my mental and emotional physiology, but I choose to believe it is the latter. Over the course of the last week and in particular the last few days I have grown increasingly cheerful and optimistic about whatever comes next. I am the me I play on “fake it until I make it” at work, when my game face is an absolute requirement. Only I am not having to fake it; I am completely making it. I am genuinely very upbeat and excited about some unknown something looming large. What a pleasant change of pace.

Thoughts of other shoes dropping from the sky and onto my head have not occurred. Until today, that is, when reporting they have been mysteriously missing from my brainwaves and that their absence had escaped my notice. How cool is that?

TM suggests this is a good thing, a step forward, with my favored term of “progress” blazing in neon lights right before my very eyes. We reviewed my week’s successes – the baby steps into other geographical areas of the gym, the “eat more protein” project, work proceeding smoothly, client kudos and compliments, surviving another allergy winter, communications with supportive friends – the list is long. We discussed the setbacks and learning curves – and none were all that awful. I was imperfect on my eating, but overall that aspect of my life is improving. I felt the effects of taking allergy medications and the keyed-up fatigue cycle that happens from it, so I took it easier at the gym and got more rest. Work has been busy/hectic/crazy, but the everyone stepped up and did more and we all know the situation is temporary and will pass.

Most significant for me from the setbacks and learning curves side of the equation, I have left emails and texts unread and not listened to voice mails or returned telephone calls from negative, nay-saying friends. For the first time in a very long time, I find myself in a calmer, happier state rather than conflicted or some level of distraught. If I cannot stop caring about what they think and how they feel, I can at least cease allowing unfettered access to the negatives that impact me. Funny thing, I do not feel guilty about it either, except for the sparest twinge while we were discussing it and even that passed by the time we moved on to the next topic. When pressed, I feel relieved. Of responsibility. Of defensiveness. Of desiring something they simply cannot or will not provide me.

Progress indeed.

This does not mean I will not eventually communicate with them, just not right now. I felt battered, beaten up, discouraged, and weak in the last go-round and have decided that a time-out is in order. How long a time-out? No idea just yet. But I also know they who do not read this blog do tend to communicate regularly with others who do. The message will be relayed one way or the other.

Anyway, we discussed my self-improvement project, about the objectives I was seeking when I restarted at the beginning of the year, how he said the process would be relatively brief and how I did not actually believe him at that time. Has my perspective changed?

I thought about that for a minute, because a simple yes or no seemed inadequate. I think yes, it has; it feels as if I believe him in his assessment of my capabilities for overcoming obstacles, particularly those of my own making and design or involving injuries I have no way of healing and must only find ways to limp along with least impact through the rest of my life. I hate, Hate, HATE that I even qualify such statements that way, but I have learned hard lessons about pretending it never happened and ignoring it; I do so at only by imperiling my own peace of mind.

Years ago, someone very dear to me characterized himself as my number 1 fan, that there was nothing I had done that would ever make him think less of me or spoil his belief in my own potential. I was so touched by the sentiment, yet so completely unmoved by it, because in my mind he was speaking of some fantasy of me that was completely unrealistic and as fictional as a character in a popular TV show. He was killed in a biking accident several months later, and I always mourned that he never got to see me make the positive strides and progress. Talking to TM today about my current level of stuff I suddenly thought of him and teared up, thinking how proud he would be of me in this moment.

Because despite negative girl in my head and her megaphone and phony concern and pseudo self-protective impulses, I am so much better, so much stronger that she ever gives credit. And because I like to keep things real here and everywhere else, I never imagined getting this far either. I would quit. I would figure out ways to sabotage myself. I would have made learning curve choices in selecting my team of experts or not figured out how to communicate with them so we could work together toward my objectives. Failure was not just an option, it was almost the inevitable outcome.

But I am still here, still plugging away, and actually thriving on all fronts.

I know I speak about the gym and its challenges, but it has been very much like the boogeyman hiding underneath my bed and so representative of my issues and my progress. I get some chiding from friends who have no idea how much it knotted my stomach to get to the gym and stay long enough to legitimately elevate my heart rate even a little bit from actual exercise at first. From there to have to slowly built up enough courage and confidence to make it back day after day after day. It is something akin to agoraphobia-light, and for me it is a real thing that has taken this much time and energy to overcome. That said, Hell yes I am super stoked about going to the gym today and using that cable machine all by myself. TM noted that I discount this accomplishment by saying the tools were nearby and that I did not have to scavenge beyond the boundaries of the new-for-me area of the gym. Would it have been a more significant accomplishment if I had had to interact with another member to get the tools I required for success?

Had I had to go farther afield to find the bar and the rope attachment things, the opportunity to falter increased. But the gym is not very busy at that hour and I had pep-talked and psyched myself up for the possibility and decided yesterday I would do this today and be taking a mental victory lap. Thinking about it from that standpoint, my accomplishment this morning was a Very Big Deal for me. The ease in which I acquired my attachments does not diminish the fact that I overcame my anxiety and was able to relax enough to become completely focused on my practice.

This is big progress for me, and I am forcing myself to stop apologizing for my shortcomings and characterizing it as such. Yes, I had to hire a trainer to learn how to exercise to overcome my self-consciousness and return to therapy to make myself keep going forward in this area, but so what? Maybe Xanax is cheaper and covered by my insurance, but J and TM are both healthier investments in my long-term health and satisfaction.

It brings me back to my idealized “normal” and “average.” Maybe normal and average are overrated in my brain, and maybe no one truly wants to be normal or average. Except maybe me who has no idea what that feels like. But when I allow myself to selfishly think only in terms of what I truly desire and would pursue for myself if there was no judgment in the world, I find life simpler, calmer, and far more realistic. Without comparing myself to others, without trying to compete in some race where the playing field is uneven by design and I have no idea of the rules of the game, I can live comfortably within my own skin and pursue my own objectives. The voices in my head are quieted or even silenced for periods of time.

Briefly, we touched upon the Very Bad Event. I sleep better now, fewer nightmares and disruptions. I still feel anxious alone in dark parking lots, but I park near other cars and remind myself that I am going into a gym, where there are big burly people, or a busy grocery store, where there are lots of people, and that I am not helpless or alone. I am training to be a badass, after all. *smile*

So we have decided to go back to our original meeting every 2 weeks, unless something happens and I need to see him sooner. Of course, he is but a phone call away if anything unexpected comes up, and I agree that I am “settled” enough now to go the distance with every other week appointments.

When I was in school, I used to feel as if I were pounding my head against the wall in frustration trying to learn and understand concepts, particularly with math. But once I got past whatever was stalling my progress, everything just seemed to fall into place and I would not fell as if I were falling behind again … until the next school year and next math class in the progression. The same theory seems to be holding true in my current lifestyle quest. I seem to plateau and seem to not being making much progress and start to think discouraging thoughts and then boom! Some tiny thing will change and I am suddenly somewhere a few steps ahead of where I was just a week or even a day prior.

Even zigging and zagging as it seems for me it does, forward progress is happening, particularly during this period of time. While I have been busy looking up and watching anxiously for signs the sky is falling, I am missing out on the changes happening right in front of me. Maybe I can trust the sky to take care of itself. Maybe rather than watching for falling shoes, I am better off and more content enjoying and expanding upon all the pairs in my own collection.

And maybe the concept of inward/outward progress works in the brain and on the heart as well as the body.

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