Relationships matter

After a day of couch surfing, crying, feeling sorry for myself, I finally picked myself up and got annoyed enough with something else. So I got started deep cleaning my shower, which led to decluttering the countertop in the master bathroom. And more crying. One of our final interactions we were looking at apartments for friend J and I was fretting over the size of the bathroom – the vanity was single sink, barely any counter. But being a guy and a minimalist guy at that, what the f**k did the countertop or bathroom size matter? It has a toilet, sink, shower – all he needed. Medicine cabinet over the sink was a bonus.

Made me smile.

But after a couple of hours of frenzied deep cleaning all through the house, I feel better. M came home from a day of running and trail sweeping and I got irritated with him for tracking in crap on floors I’d just steam cleaned and wiping his feet on entry rugs I’d just vacuumed. Not his fault, of course, but I’m trying to burn off my funk and feeling cranky because of it. Essentially it was one of those pissy days in our household.

As I wait for a final load of laundry to finish washing to be loaded into the dryer, my alternate thought spin cycle has begun making its rounds in my head.

Work is for the most part going very well. I’m busy enough and engaged enough with the clients stable I’m serving already, but they bring me projects with quick turnaround deadlines and it keeps things especially interesting. I have no real complaints and am enjoying this aspect of my life.

Or I was, until Friday.

As you may recall, my former firm was bought out by a much larger corporate firm and I was given a damn generous severance package. My former bosses are still consulting and working cases that were continuing at the time of separation, and my former boss’ corporation remains a client of mine as we wind things down. It’s a win-win situation, because I do really enjoy working with them. I also remain close to my associates who are still working for Big Corp Firm (BCF) and meet them for lunch or drinks/dinner at least once a month. These people are my friends and the relationships are important to me.

Over the last couple of weeks I have gotten calls from BCF about various issues. I rarely answer the telephone when the regional operations coordinator phones, because as far as I am concerned, they instigated the separation, tried their level best to screw me over before and after said separation, and are therefore completely untrustworthy. Our communications are always going to be on my terms, not theirs. This does not mean I am so unprofessional as to completely ignore their email inquiries or telephone calls; it just means I do not jump when they snap their fingers. Kind of a childish control issue, I admit, but they are not nice people and treated me very poorly.

Anyway, the questions they have been asking have been very routine, stuff we went over several times before I left. I’m not impatient with them, but I find it tedious when someone who is supposed to be intelligent and in charge of a business group asks me the same questions in different ways over the course of a week. I learned during the Friday meeting with the partners that the problem is not so much a misunderstanding so much as it is a conflict with a couple of very fussy clients.

The partners asked me if I would consider a limited consulting engagement with BCF for these few specific clients with very particular issues and a much healthier respect for me and how I dealt with them. Just to get things transitioned completely. Had BCF treated me more professionally, I would do so up to a specific number of hours each month without charge. But I know their coordinator knows there is a huge amount of distrust and resentment toward them, because I have stated it in those precise words with very specific reasons for my feelings.

But relationships matter. My relationship with my former bosses/present clients are important to me, as is my reputation among the BCF, even if they think I’m scarcely more than a clerk for not having a law degree. Refusing this limited engagement with BCF will ultimately hurt my former bosses, because they do reap a share of the revenue from these ongoing cases until they are settled once and for all. Everyone also knows that the request coming from them is impossible for me to refuse.

Even if I dislike my choices in the matter or the people I will have to work with on the grind of getting the relationship repair work done, it’s business. I am probably more upset about being put into this position, because completely hiding behind my mask of professionalism will be almost impossible in this situation. But they need me, and the greater good for people who do matter to me means making the best of the situation. I cannot even charge them a premium because of the circumstances to make myself feel better about it.

The bright side is that I’ll get to be back amongst my peeps a few times each month, and I have missed seeing and interacting with them on a routine basis. It is also a limited scope thing, something that will likely only last through the end of the year. Biggest bonus is they need me, not vice versa. My irritation with them for their big corporate practices is greatly tempered knowing that they are under enough pressure to address the concerns of a client that they had to try and recruit me back to help them smooth things over.

Framed that way, I feel very vindicated. Perhaps I will even come to enjoy the time spent with the vipers of BCF. I doubt it, but I have to retain a facade of optimism about the relationship and situation.

Anxiety

We’re packing up and preparing for the drive home, because I have to go to the office and cope with a client with a looming issue that is not easily resolved.

I know it is not my problem. I know I am not the cause of this problem. I know what I advised my client over the course of several months and warned him about this problem coming to pass. I also know that is nothing I can do to “make” a client heed my guidance and even less I can do now that the problem has come to fruition. Yet despite knowing all that, I am the one who tossed and turned and woke up with feelings of anxiety and dread about talking to him this morning.

This is me and my stuff, I know. It’s a near constant battle, one for which I have yet to find an appropriate long-term solution. I disconnect and remain as emotionally impassive as I can, but this is a real person, with real employees, and now with real problems of his own making. There is a codependent inside me that really wants to solve this for him, to make it better, to not let he and his workers suffer.

The healthier, realistic part of me knows and understands the limits of my influence. As a business owner myself, I also understand this is a hard and painful lesson that must be learned.

Except it probably will not be learned. Or accepted. Or embraced.

And it is why I now understand that distancing myself or completely severing ties and communications with some people and entities is sometimes the only healthy solution for me. While I understand and accept I cannot save anyone else, I am also starting to accept that I need not stand by and watch the self-destruction people bring upon themselves. Or that setting a strong boundary that separates me from an emotional vampire is probably appropriate.

I am feeling the need for a TM tune-up. Work life, personal life, boundary life are all starting to converge and to get a little blurred. I am not yet strong enough or healthy enough to be anyone’s role model, guide, or leader. My experiences are my own, and my expectations of personal responsibility seem to be too overwhelming for many. I do not see them as weak so much as needing a lot more hand-holding and coddling that I am willing or able to provide.

Having expectations, for myself and for others, has always seemed like a harsh and judgmental line, something to be ashamed of or never openly revealed. I have failed myself and my own aspirations seemingly more times than I have succeeded, and the standards I set for myself are much harder than those I have for others in my realm. But I am not a professional or even an amature life coach; I have a whole village to help me figure out what I am doing and how I can be better at doing it to move forward toward my objectives. And I also know it’s a huge luxury for me, one that I work hard at my jobs to earn and enjoy.

Yet I’m feeling cramped and crowded by responsibilities and expectations, both real and imagined. I blog because it’s a way to keep me focused and accountable and on track with my personal “be better” quest in life. Better health. Better career professional. Better friend. Better family and tribe member. If my efforts and journey are helpful to others, that’s a huge win for me. If not, there are literally thousands of other blogs out there, probably something for everyone; my feelings will not be hurt if you go elsewhere seeking what you want to enhance your own life’s journey.

Mine is a very small, very ordinary life. M and I are probably among the more boring people in our vicinity, and we’re okay with that. Our is not a life lived with a lot of drama and salacious events that make for titillating blog reading. I had been contemplating a new, separate blog for my health and wellness pursuits, but since I am so not in this for monetary benefit or blog fame and glory, I think having the whole enchilada of my experiences and musings contained in one space works for me.

I dislike feeling the way I do right now, about work, about the telephone conversation I will soon be having with my client on the drive home. But it’s part of being a grown up and a business owner, to have to deliver an “I told you so” without coming out and saying it in those words. This is his problem to resolve; my role today is simply as a sounding board and advisor to try and minimize the long-term damage. But it will be unpleasant. I so dislike unpleasant.

And to top that off – I was feeling a little jealous this morning at 6 a.m., wondering if some other member was in my usual training time slot. How silly is that? Mostly I am sure the feeling comes from the discomfort and anxiety of this work-related problem and longing to return to my standard, day-to-day routines and not that I have bunny-boiler tendencies toward my usual training appointments. Vacation was nice, relaxing, and good to get away, if only because it makes me really appreciate all I have in my regular life.

M is FINALLY ready. Off to hit the road home.

Influence

How much influence do others in our lives hold over us? How much influence do we hold over others? And where is the tipping point where trying to influence or persuade becomes trying to control or manipulate? Or are these different things that come from different motivations right out of the box? What to do when being a supportive, encouraging influence feels more like enabling and results in feeling discouraged and energy draining for us?

These are questions swirling in my mind lately. Not all the time, not obsessively, not urgently, but cropping up frequently enough that they become a recurring theme for me to explore.

I think about those who hold sway in my life for different reasons – M, my kids, my closest friends, my clients, my business associates, my village of experts and teachers. For the most part, these are people I trust, particularly or especially within their sphere of expertise or their place in my life. Some of those circles overlap – I have clients who I also consider friends, I have a village that I think of like extended family members. For all these sources no matter what their classification in my life, I listen to them, am keenly interested in what they share with me, want to know what they think and how they feel. I want to ensure they are okay and to help whenever appropriate and possible. And I absolutely believe in the integrity within our interactions.

In my real life as well as on several blogs I regularly read and follow, I see some form of disconnect between those who speak their truth, those who use ambiguity, and those who are outright lying for whatever reason. The last troubles me the most, obviously. Much of the time I do not understand why someone would lie about relatively trivial things, or even to get what they think they want. Which should be comforting to know that I have a functional moral compass. The most obvious liars and cheats are terrible people who should be avoided at all costs, but there is a much subtler version of truth-shading. I have mostly come to understand it stems from something amiss in the other party’s life. Depression. Anxiety. Insecurity. All of the above. Something else I know even less about much less how to identify it. And as much as I want to help, to be a good friend, to be a resource, I cannot help anyone who refuses to admit there could potentially be a truth and reality problem in our communications.

I understand boundaries very well, and in my world it is fine to tell me something is none of my business or that you are uncomfortable answering a question if it seems too personal or something else. I am not completely obtuse and do pick up on the subtleties of subject changing or not responding directly to a question. For me, this is how I discover boundaries and get to know people. Another lesson from being a parent that extends to the rest of my life. As my kids grew up and achieved more autonomy and assumed more responsibility for themselves, year-by-year letting go of a little more of the mom-who-controls-everything mode was a natural progression that I accepted and after awhile, truly embraced. It gave both kids room to experiment, make independent choices, make mistakes with those independent choices, learn about life knowing M and I were there, we had/have their backs. A few times I was disappointed and angry at dumb choices they made, but for the most part in those days they checked in before making a big decisions and allow me to weigh in with my thoughts or preferences, and they learned to listen and to trust me when I said it was their choice. From my own history growing up, I absolutely knew I would never become a parent who says “I told you so” or harp upon decisions they made that I suggested or plainly stated was a bad idea.

Does not mean that I do not feel the impulse sometimes to insist they do it my way or to try and take away some of their autonomy. I am not much of a spontaneous person, and when it comes to friends and family, I strive to be very careful with my words and actions. Sometimes our individual truths are hurtful and not what we and our partners in discussion each want to hear, and sometimes our truths are absolutely inaccurate when removed from our own context. Basically it’s tricky and it’s complicated even when it should not be all that difficult or challenging.

This same lessons apply to friendships, although I have a few examples littering my history that are train wrecks and nothing I say, nothing I do would prevent the same issues, same problems from recurring over and over again. In these situations it became obvious we should never discuss relationships, parenting, or financial matters, because I grew weary of seeing the same mistakes happen in a predictable cycle and they grew frustrated and defensive in light of my pained expressions and refusing to be supportive in their time of need.

Part of life is being let down and disappointed by actions, reactions, behaviors. In the last year I have discontinued regular contact with long-time close friends and chronicled it here on the blog. It has been a process that left me uncomfortable at first, but slowly I am coming to realize that not all painful change means it is bad or regretful change. Perhaps I am in a mental/emotional growth spurt and learning things that are obvious to just about everyone else.

My basic recent takeaway is that I value my time and have learned to prioritize it, which is likely the most benign way to express that my tolerance is limited with people who cannot or will not be straight with me. I love having friends, but how based in reality is a friendship when someone chooses to not be truthful? When I was a single parent, my free time was scarce with young children underfoot, so many of my friendships were with other mothers, other parents in similar situations. While our kids played we’d sit on park benches and talk and revel in some adult conversation that did not involve breaking up arguments or comforting frustrated toddlers. Same was true as the kids advanced in school grades; many of my friends were parents of their friends or people I saw at PTA meetings or band booster or parent athlete events. Never underestimate the bonds forged with other parents while manning a snackbar at a high school water polo event or a wresting tournament.

But I recognize the transitory nature of those relationships. My closest circle of friends are people I have met at various jobs throughout my career and/or that I met at some point and just clicked with on some real, raw level. Friend J – on the surface we have virtually nothing in common, yet after 20+ years we are still best of friends. Friend GS – who just resurfaced after a 2-year absence – is another who is 13 years younger than I am, lives on the east coast, and is now weaving his way through the single parent maze I was immersed in when we first met. There are others, people who I see once or twice a year, or maybe only ever 4 or 5 years, yet keep in regular, close touch via text and email because that’s what type of friends we are. These are in my phone favorites list and speed dial when something significant happens and I need to share the joy or an extra shoulder to lean on or arms for hugging support.

To a person, there have been misunderstandings through the years, even hurtful things we have had to hash out and resolve in order to move forward. But to the best of my knowledge and instincts, they have never lied or misled me about anything. Sure they have disappointed me, and I them. Sometimes real life with close friends their own day-to-day lives are a more interesting priority that fulfilling a vague commitment for a friend who will ultimately forgive their thoughtlessness. Thing is, they know my priority and how my mind works. They say “I am doing this” then it clicks into a holding place in my head until concluded. If they fail to initiate the task, they come back and say “sorry, I got distracted with something else and have revised to this.” I am okay with that nearly all the time, because I get stuff happens.

But to say “I am doing this” and have it evolve into “I have done this” is like a done-deal. For me to learn through the passage of time and have my happy expectation dissolve into something else is huge for me. When the “I have done this” turns out to be a deliberate misleading statement – uber huge. The first time it happens, I explain my position very clearly: if you tell me you have done something, I believe you. If it turns out you told me you did something and you in fact did not, it’s a chink in the trust that is difficult to resolve. Just telling me is far better than just letting the situation unwind itself out, have me questioning you about it, being reassured that you don’t know what happened but it’s on the way. Or even worse, making an excuse, only to have me at some point call you on your bullshit, that is a really hard one for me to recover from.

There are extenuating circumstances. Life happens. But to ignore the problem and hope it goes away is not working on a communication issue or breach of trust between us.

I am dealing with a few such situations right now. And it completely sucks. Because while I hate conflict, I hate that trust shattered makes me feel like a shit-worthless friend. I hate having to separate myself from meaningful friendship.

I am very frustrated with the trivial matters that have been escalated into crisis-like situations. I am very frustrated with myself for being so trigger-happy as a coping mechanism based partly on intuition and instinct, but mostly on generous amounts of prior poor experiences. I am equally frustrated with friends who cannot or will not just tell me the truth and make some movement, take a small step to try and talk it out. Overall I am just disturbed and disgusted with myself for allowing it to send me into a tail-chasing spin cycle. In the bigger picture, the root cause of the breakdown does not matter. And from the the way things are progressing, neither I nor the offending parties matter much to each other either.

Which is why these situations are sucky and hurtful. I am trying to be careful and cautious about how I go forward and deal with what sits in my mind like a giant pink elephant, but it’s crowding me out my positive experiences. And lately I am all about embracing the positive

So let me just finish purging myself of this stuff and move back into my happy, less troubled self.

My old friend who is obsessed with weight and appearance finally responded to my email reply to her, and in typical fashion, turned it around and made this all about me and my overreaction to her concerns, even going so far as to say my better health objective has backfired and turned me into a raging bitch.

Huh. Really? Intriguing turn of events. In truth, the email made me laugh, probably inappropriately. But oh well. It is possible I should be more upset, but I am not. If this very old friend takes it upon herself to tell me who she is right now, I should simply believe her and let it go. I do value my time; arguing over the differences in our perspectives is completely pointless. If I used Facebook like normal people I would unfriend and block her, because that is apparently how these things are done anymore. Instead, I simply deleted the email without further response.

We are all now middle aged grown-ups. Despite how young or old we may feel inside, hopefully enough time has passed and enough experience accumulated to the point where we can be courteous and be kind to one another even if we have grown apart as friends and confidants. Or so goes my thinking on the subject. Possibly I am the delusional one.

There is another blogging community we both belong to with a larger, wider group of friends. For years we used it more like a message board for the group, where we would post news or vent about our spouses or dating or other aspects of our lives and receive support or a kick in the ass from the others with their comments and perspectives. Only we were all friends in real life and it was not at all anonymous. I think about my real-life friends who once participated on the community blog and now read this, my personal blog for updates, and occasionally react to it in email, text, or telephone. Nothing I write here is anything I would not repeat to them in a face-to-face conversation, so I never fear that I am stepping upon toes or being passive-aggressive in getting my point across. If that were the case I am extremely unlikely to leave a post up just long enough to be read by one or a few and then delete it and all the comments. Nor would I abandon my blog completely, delete it, and run from it and its history. That happened a lot off and on through the years in this other community and was the catalyst to beginning my own blog, my own safe space.

It is not my way to try and hide or wipe my past. I see the evolution of my thoughts, my life in the historical posts here. Some of it is truly cringe-worthy, and not just because of the typos and grammatical errors (because I rarely do more than a very superficial proofread and hardly ever edit). Despite my cringe-worthy personal content, I also see growth and maturity in my perspective. I see where I have abandoned any and all interest in being a good or popular blogger, I see the allure of audience blogging and my rejection of it. I treasure those who read and like and comment. Perhaps there is something in my posts that brings a new facet to their own journeys, or they find amusement in the slices of life and endless navel-gazing going on around here. Blogging life simply got better when this became more of a public journal than anything else.

On Sunday I got an email from another blogger who paid me this high compliment: “There is a ring of earnest authenticity in your writing that I find comforting.” I was and am hugely flattered by those words, because I am as real here as I am standing at my keyboard at home. It is that type of authenticity I desire in all my relationships, but particularly those where influence on either side is an option. Otherwise, what is the point?

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.

Food, forgiveness, and letting go

I have an appointment with TM today and it cannot get here soon enough. After that, I may do a second gym practice or take a yoga class. Something to burn off some of my present level of negative energy.

Like everyone, there are a few things in life that genuinely upset me to a distraught degree. It happens rarely – the Very Bad Incident is an excellent example – but there are certain triggers that may result in complicated and messy emotional responses.

I am in the midst of one of those right now.

Something thoughtless was said to me yesterday, and while it seemed innocent enough on the surface, the consequence ripple is still being felt this afternoon. And I have no idea what to do about it.

Since I began this blog it has evolved into my safe place to talk about anything and everything. Only rarely do I ever regret sharing its existence with my nearest and dearest, because what is said here is never anything that has not been stated directly.

Today, however, is one of those even rarer occasions when I wonder if going private might be more appropriate. I reject the idea almost instantly, because I would miss the opportunities to meet other people, gain valuable perspective, and explore other blogs, but it says something about my shaken state.

I skipped dinner last night in my distress. I rarely to never skip meals, because it wreaks havoc on my blood sugar and makes me feel lightheaded and weak. My practice this morning kind of sucked because of it, and the “weak” aspect of my skipping a meal definitely showed. Or maybe my anger was not as focused as I imagined? Whatever it was, I struggled with the weights and gave up worrying about using my “normal” dumbbell weights and used something lighter and focused exclusively on maintaining impeccably good form for 4 sets – J would have been so proud.  Maybe it’s my head simply thrashing myself, but even with that minor success I feel as if I just concluded the sloppiest practice I have had in weeks. Ah well. It is but one practice out of several more this week; I will try again and do better.

But back to the latest in this string of harsh-my-self-improvement-positivity-buzz events. Accidents happen, people are thoughtless and say and do stupid things all the time. I completely understand that, having been there, done that, and have a whole closet full of t-shirts to commemorate those occasions. Majority of the time I am forgiving, as I feel I am or will be in time in this case. But it feels like such a gross violation of trust in a bid for attention or something that I am having a hard time letting it go. Granted, it has not yet been an entire day.

Trust is only 5 letters, yet it is such a loaded word with big giant connotations and consequences.

I know I have trust issues; one does not have the childhood I endured and come out the other side an adult without real hang-ups and issues. But I do try hard do put forth the effort to be a good and caring person and responsible community member. The trespass was inadvertent and to anyone else not that big of a deal. Except it is to me; I simply do not tolerate disrespect of me very well and I absolutely cannot tolerate it for my family and my tribe of adopted family. I have a headache today trying to let it go and get back to my happier place.

I am terrible about relinquishing friendships long overdue for pruning. My feelings get hurt, and I can forgive and get over it. I understand that there are degrees of hurt to be inflicted, degrees of pain I can and will endure. But trust? Breaking that is like snapping a twig; there are now 2 separate pieces that are separated forever, or at least cannot be put back together again in the same way.

So I am wondering what it means to just accept that trust is broken, a life-long challenge for which I still have no clear answers. If I am the good, decent, better person I always wish to be, I forgive and let go of this as a single ugly footnote in a very long book. Truth is I don’t know that I am there yet in my good personhood timeline. I know the regret is genuine, the apologies sincere, yet I have this big cement wall between my accepting the apology and my inner gut-check knowledge that I may never again look at this person in the same way again, nor trust them to the same sort of intimate degree.

It makes me feel terrible about myself. And I so want to get past the part of my life where I feel terrible about who I am and that I have limitations and boundaries that are real and should be respected by anyone who professes to know and care about me. I want to claw and scrape and do whatever it takes to get back to where I was yesterday, in my so happy to be me state of being.

I feel I am regressing. TM will help me make sense of it and come to a better conclusion – he has never let me down in sorting my shit out. I am guessing he will say to give it time, not to make any irreversible decisions, to forgive myself in my inability to react with only frozen composure that may last forever toward this dear friend.

A thoughtless, tossed off comment. Until I expressed my mounting distress, it was not even seen as much of a big deal. Until I made it such, and I was so shocked by the initial cavalier attitude that I could not say “I am very angry about your thoughtlessness toward me and mine” in the moment, because another little foundational pillar within me was crumbling. I completely understand this seems like an overreaction, because people make mistakes. However, I have learned to not dismiss my own feelings in favor of keeping the peace or maintaining facades of relationships.

When I was a little girl, my parents would send me off to spend time alone with my abuser and allow him to hurt me, several days per week, for several years. My tears, my fears, my anxiety about it and about him fell on deaf ears for years, and it taught me how to stuff my feelings with food, isolation, perfect behavior, and to beat myself into a bloody pulp when none of that worked, seemed to matter, or made the hurting stop. I lacked words to make them understand what was happening. But I grew up believing if I were good, if I were good enough, if I followed all the rules and did everything they wanted and said it took to be good, the pain would stop. But it never did, not until we moved. Because what they said to me in their actions is that my feelings did not matter. I did not matter. Other people’s expectations and needs were more important. The lesson imparted was what I think, how I feel matters only in service to others, because that is what determines my good personhood and worth.

The legacy of that haunts me to this day.

I am fiercely protective of my family and those I adopt as family (whether they are aware of that adoption into my tribe or not). It’s like a mortal wound when someone within my realm mistreats another in hopes of a laugh or as attention seeking behavior. My reactions to such tend to be mama grizzly type severe. It’s hard to hear shortcomings about yourself from others you like and respect, but if it comes from a caring place I can accept and cope with it in a relatively rational manner. But when it comes to my family or those in my tribe, our private discussions can be as joking or as serious as appropriate, but they should always be harmless fun or at the very least respectful. But there is a big difference between a private disagreement and reprimand and a public derisive or insulting comment; all bets are off if the injury occurs in a public forum. It is rare for me to choose to end a relationship and it is not a decision I make lightly, but right now I am in such a state that I need to maintain a safe distance in order to not rain an escalating level of pained anger over a few seconds of unthinking words.

TM will likely counsel to give it some time, to allow my feelings to settle down. I don’t disagree with him on that course at all, and I will take his advice to heart in whatever context he frames it. But there’s the searing sort of pain that says while I do not want to let go, my self-destruct pin has been pulled and I either put some distance between me and this grenade or I blow myself up with it.

So how does all this relate to food, you may be wondering?

This is supposed to be my 5 day food logging for the dietician. I have thus far skipped dinner yesterday (definitely an anomaly), had my pre-workout protein shake before going to the gym this morning, and since it’s nearly 1:30 p.m., I need to eat something for lunch. I have been studiously avoiding the office kitchen and the ooey-gooey brownies on the table – my ability to resist is nonexistent at the moment. The little bag of almonds and orange on my desk do not constitute a typical lunch for me, but it’s getting late enough that it will tide me over until after I see TM and can get home for a decent dinner. So this has not the best start to meal tracking. Therefore, I am making an executive decision to restart the tracking clock to tomorrow and try harder to be better about it. At least I avoided the sugar trap; surely it should be gone by tomorrow.

The urge to eat crap is all around me today, but thankfully I am both working at my part-time office job and handling matters for my self-employment clients. It’s a crazy time tracking day, but I am making it work.

I feel all Debbie Downer today and am so sad about that. I need to repower my happy and bring on the more meaningful suck. Like single legged deadlifts or anything yoga. I would much rather be frustrated about my present physical imbalance than my off-kilter emotional balance.

Reaching out, asking for help

I am not sure what happened, but this post did seem to appear on my blog after pressing publish nor was it in my published, draft, or trash folders. It seems to have been vaporized, except for those who receive my posts post via email. My bestie was kind enough to comment on it via text, and I asked her to forward the email so I could repost. If the original ever resurfaces, I will delete this copy. If you receive my posts by email, I apologize for the duplicate today. Unforeseen technical difficulties happen.

One of the most awful traits/habits I have passed down to my children is my own difficulty in admitting I have issues and that I need help. From anyone. As I get older I am incrementally better about it, but it is still one of life’s more difficult things for me.

My daughter is struggling right now. While we are close and communicate regularly, I aim for a balance between being a concerned and loving mother of adult children and a controlling, overly involved mother of adult children. In their upbringing, my goal was happy, balanced, normal people capable of living independent and fulfilling lives. The relationship I had with my own mother/parents makes this undiscovered country for me, and I always hope and pray I am hitting the marks in the right sequence.

Until this afternoon (Saturday) I was unsure just how difficult a road she was traveling. Her fiance is a good man, and he was the one who reached out and confided his own difficulties with seeing her so unhappy/depressed, being careless with her medications for this condition, and generally not taking the best care of her overall health. Fiance A also started out telling me about his own struggles of late and consulting a mental health professional for assistance, who did advise him to let me know what is going on with C and how it is impacting him and their overall relationship. They are both under a realistic amount of stress between jobs and life, and I am very proud of A for taking the steps to care for himself as well as having the courage and trust to share his concerns about my daughter with me.

None of us lives in a vacuum, and I want no one I love to ever feel isolated or alone. Sometimes it’s just so hard to admit you’re struggling and need help, much less reach out and ask for assistance, especially when you’re not sure of what it is you actually want or need.

If the situation were reversed (and it has been me on many occasions), my internal dialog goes something like asking for help is pointless because (1) I don’t want to bother anyone with my trivial issues, (2) there is nothing anyone else can do to improve what is making me unhappy, (3) I am being silly and making mountains out of molehills, and (4) I am not important enough to deserve help.

The last is the biggie for me. Overcoming that to the degree I have has been huge.

I had been thinking about reaching out to C anyway, because I was concerned about her dissatisfaction with the work she is doing and the defeated air she exhibited last night. It was family dinner, though, and she did not want to bring up something so complex when we are all together and enjoying our time. When A reached out to ask me what I thought, I knew my instincts were correct.

The odd thing to me was I thought C looked stunning last night – very put together and relaxed. Just goes to show we are all capable of wearing our brave faces even when it’s completely unnecessary.

I have no magic bullets to share with C, but I am one of her biggest cheerleaders (nod to A) and can be a somewhat impartial ear. Yep, I have an agenda – I want to help her sharpen her focus, develop some plans and goals for changes that may lead to greater joy and peace in her life. Patience is a universal struggle in my bloodline, but I know my daughter and know she is like me in that having goals and plans to make them happen is empowering.

So we are meeting for lunch on Tuesday (today), and however much time she has and needs before/after her “on-call” shift starts at 2:30 is how much time we will spend talking about whatever is on her mind or crosses our pathways.

I am glad this is coming together, than she’s not in crisis and that perhaps she will feel better about things after talk. While I wish she did not let it go until she’s overwhelmed and at her stress limit, I also get the genetics and family dynamics of talking to each other when we’re simply struggling. This is a first generation of actually talking to each other period, and I will not whine about our shortfalls. We are building, we are better than me with my parents, and for that I am infinitely, eternally grateful.

It was Saturday when I began writing this post, and I was not sure if I would indeed post it. This is very personal and concerns an important member of my family, but the struggles we face individually and as a family are not unique to us. No matter what the issue or the dynamics that exist, it’s important we all have our individual voices be heard and someone we trust enough to speak with openly and share our anger, our frustration, our fears.

Today I am really thankful to be someone that my kids turn to without anxiety or fear of being judged.

Reaching out, asking for help

One of the most awful traits/habits I have passed down to my children is my own difficulty in admitting I have issues and that I need help. From anyone. As I get older I am incrementally better about it, but it is still one of life’s more difficult things for me.

My daughter is struggling right now. While we are close and communicate regularly, I aim for a balance between being a concerned and loving mother of adult children and a controlling, overly involved mother of adult children. In their upbringing, my goal was happy, balanced, normal people capable of living independent and fulfilling lives. The relationship I had with my own mother/parents makes this undiscovered country for me, and I always hope and pray I am hitting the marks in the right sequence.

Until this afternoon (Saturday) I was unsure just how difficult a road she was traveling. Her fiance is a good man, and he was the one who reached out and confided his own difficulties with seeing her so unhappy/depressed, being careless with her medications for this condition, and generally not taking the best care of her overall health. Fiance A also started out telling me about his own struggles of late and consulting a mental health professional for assistance, who did advise him to let me know what is going on with C and how it is impacting him and their overall relationship. They are both under a realistic amount of stress between jobs and life, and I am very proud of A for taking the steps to care for himself as well as having the courage and trust to share his concerns about my daughter with me.

None of us lives in a vacuum, and I want no one I love to ever feel isolated or alone. Sometimes it’s just so hard to admit you’re struggling and need help, much less reach out and ask for assistance, especially when you’re not sure of what it is you actually want or need.

If the situation were reversed (and it has been me on many occasions), my internal dialog goes something like asking for help is pointless because (1) I don’t want to bother anyone with my trivial issues, (2) there is nothing anyone else can do to improve what is making me unhappy, (3) I am being silly and making mountains out of molehills, and (4) I am not important enough to deserve help.

The last is the biggie for me. Overcoming that to the degree I have has been huge.

I had been thinking about reaching out to C anyway, because I was concerned about her dissatisfaction with the work she is doing and the defeated air she exhibited last night. It was family dinner, though, and she did not want to bring up something so complex when we are all together and enjoying our time. When A reached out to ask me what I thought, I knew my instincts were correct.

The odd thing to me was I thought C looked stunning last night – very put together and relaxed. Just goes to show we are all capable of wearing our brave faces even when it’s completely unnecessary.

I have no magic bullets to share with C, but I am one of her biggest cheerleaders (nod to A) and can be a somewhat impartial ear. Yep, I have an agenda – I want to help her sharpen her focus, develop some plans and goals for changes that may lead to greater joy and peace in her life. Patience is a universal struggle in my bloodline, but I know my daughter and know she is like me in that having goals and plans to make them happen is empowering.

So we are meeting for lunch on Tuesday (today), and however much time she has and needs before/after her “on-call” shift starts at 2:30 is how much time we will spend talking about whatever is on her mind or crosses our pathways.

I am glad this is coming together, than she’s not in crisis and that perhaps she will feel better about things after talk. While I wish she did not let it go until she’s overwhelmed and at her stress limit, I also get the genetics and family dynamics of talking to each other when we’re simply struggling. This is a first generation of actually talking to each other period, and I will not whine about our shortfalls. We are building, we are better than me with my parents, and for that I am infinitely, eternally grateful.

It was Saturday when I began writing this post, and I was not sure if I would indeed post it. This is very personal and concerns an important member of my family, but the struggles we face individually and as a family are not unique to us. No matter what the issue or the dynamics that exist, it’s important we all have our individual voices be heard and someone we trust enough to speak with openly and share our anger, our frustration, our fears.

Today I am really thankful to be someone that my kids turn to without anxiety or fear of being judged.