Spoiler alert: He thinks I’m pretty swell. One day I will appreciate just how swell I am, too. Just in case you were curious and did not want to wade through this whole post.
Therapist TM has worked with me for a number of years. Not regularly for probably 8 or 9 years, but I see him once or twice a year just because I like to be reassured that I have not dived down some unknown rabbit hole never be seen again.
This year we’re exploring and working at building my confidence and self-esteem, reducing my insecurity and inability to accept that I am not some ax murderer waiting to happen sort of bad person. Or that was sort of my half-baked plan when we started this; sometimes I am never sure if I am actually asking for what I want or merely accepting what I need from this process. Either way, I have always ended feeling as if I accomplished a lot when we complete a specific project , if not precisely the objective I thought I was seeking. I return for annual tune-ups
So today we talked about lots of incidents and things. We started and ended with the guy on Friday, how I felt, how I reacted, and the why of it all.
TM pointed out how I discounted my own reactions, that in my shock and dismay at this foolish man’s assumptions and actions that I did not react more strongly and instead allowed him to instill doubt and anxiety into my practice and the days after. I cannot disagree with anything he said, because I see clearly where I allowed something so foreign and unexpected to govern my behaviors.
I pointed out that my ability to return to the gym day after day is partly habit and partly conviction that I am mostly invisible while I am there. To have someone speak to me and tell me I am doing something wrong is my worst nightmare come to life, because the only way I can successfully navigate life is to take the clearest version of following the rules.
Because I barely trust myself and my own instincts, I feel undeserving of the basic care and consideration I would give to another person’s dog. Because of this, if challenged about something
I think I know, I still fold like a house of cards.
Except this time I didn’t, not really.
Yes, I was greatly bothered by that man’s comments into the weekend. Yes, I was bothered enough to text J about my form and be buoyed by the opinions and pep talks from J, from M, from the rest of my network. But I was not so wigged that I avoided returning to the gym on Saturday or Sunday. Monday I was at training without a peep or attempt to cancel.
I pointed out to TM that I was wigged out, but I was not running for the hills and burning the fields behind me. I also stood up for myself when our paths crossed again yesterday, and the only tiny bit of doubt was calling my bestie to see if I had been rude.
Not that I planned to apologize or anything else if I had been rude.
While I did kind of discount my instincts and reactions, I was shocked, surprised, and kind of appalled that he would say something like that to me in the first place.
But this was so much of a better outcome than what could have happened, would have happened in some prior rendition of me. It might have been weeks or months before I returned to them gym or to training after something like this.
TM agreed. He agreed that I have made progress, good progress. Not just with regard to my health through diet and exercise. I am doing well with building up my own boundaries and strengths against others, and most importantly, trusting myself and my instincts.
I kind of laughed at that one. But in retrospect, he is right. While I was wigged and felt knocked down, I was in the gym on Saturday and on Sunday for practice. I was training with J on Monday morning. I had my doubts about what I was doing, I felt clumsy and awkward in my interactions with other people the last several days, but I was there and I got it done.
This week we are going to work on positive affirmations. Every time I think something negative about myself and whatever I happened to be doing at the time it occurs, I need to find something positive to balance the scales. If I am presently hating on glute bridges, I need to find something positive about glute bridges.
Some assignments are much more challenging than others.
But I’m game for it, because despite my 2 steps forward, 3 steps back approach to improving, I can feel tiny little wings of confidence are growing. I was terrified of the gym and everyone in it when I started. I am still mostly afraid of many, many things therein, but not everything and not everyone.
It took me a long time to become this level of functional and mentally and emotionally healthy. It may take a bit more time to get a little further along the healing path. Progress, incremental, tiny little baby steps forward is still progress.
And I am okay with that.
TM offered today that he’s proud of me, says I try hard and am doing good work. I am making amazing strides. Mostly I believe him, and I know given enough time I will overcome and actually accept that the work I am doing is providing long-term dividends, and I am the one doing the heavy lifting, sometimes literally, to make it happen.
More than that, though, I’m developing the muscles that let me get back up when I fall down or am pushed off balance and back into dark places. Because I never thought I would last this long, through this many go-rounds with therapy for different aspects of old problems. Or with training and going to the gym, day after day after day. Maybe this is why I believe my confidence will be studier and less impacted by a random stranger. Or why I feel certain I will eventually overcome my dislike of glute bridges and core exercises. My persistence muscle has been engaged, worked, and grows stronger through my efforts.
At the end of my day,
I think the key to success is and has been stocking and staffing my village, because no way could I ever get this far all on my own.
And I am more than okay with that.