Who am I?

It’s been a tough week.

hitting-the-wallI’ve been thinking lately that when we alter our life style so drastically it can whip us up into a tornado of fast paced change and progress that we get carried along in and whilst that seems to be a good thing we have to be mindful that there could come a point where that tornado dumps us, from a height, flat on our faces on the ground again if we’re not careful. I feel I’m at that dumping point, I’ve hit a wall, I’ve been dropped on my face.

I always talk about step by step… it taking one small step to start a long journey… to make small changes because they add up to achieve the whole. I really believe that’s the way to win this battle and yet I feel that I’ve forgotten my own mantras and started to not only stride along the path but to positively leap along it. I images (1)fear I’ve hit a point where I’m just totally exhausted, knackered as we Brits like to so eloquently put it. Not in a physical way but mentally.

I am doing so many positive things that strangely it’s started to be counter productive. I’m not talking about weight loss, that’s happening as it should as are all of the other physical health and wellness benefits and the aesthetic improvements but not my emotional and mental health. I think that my body is moving way faster than my head is prepared for.  It might take a fellow addict or another person who has had a lifelong struggle with obesity to understand this because it just sounds such a messed up concept… that doing too much good is bad for you. But I do think it can be true, I think it IS true in my case for sure.

I’m calling to mind a post by Debs over on her blog  who worried if she was somehow afraid of being slim and healthy and felt kind of safer as the fat girl. I thought I knew what she was talking about when I read it and I did to some degree, but now I’m starting to understand what she was talking about in a very different way or at least to relate to it in a very different way.

I think for some of us who are fat because we’re comfortable and safe that way, we use it, wittingly or not as our shield, we might find catapulting towards slim and healthy scary at some point. I didn’t think I was one of those people, I didn’t think I could be one of those people but I think that I am and wonder if we all are.  I think the important words back there were ‘at some point’ because that point might come anywhere along the road for us and for different reasons. For me I think I’m scared that I’m heading there too fast and that I’m getting there by substituting addictions.

I’m feeling very low of mood, bordering on depressed and as someone who has battled depression I’m not using the word lightly. I’ve always said that this fight is won in the head not the mouth or the stomach and for me that is so true and I think I’ve reached a point where my head is getting a bit uncomfortable with the pace of change. At least that’s how I’m self diagnosing this out of the blue way I’m feeling.

download (3)Because of this acknowledgement of the discomfort with the pace and asking myself why it’s happening, I’ve realised that I’ve gone from being addicted to food to being addicted to exercise. I’ve just replaced one addiction with another and neither are healthy. I can’t sleep if I’ve not done at least several hours of rigorous exercise a day and I mean rigorous as in nearly throwing up from physical exhaustion. Is that any different to not being able to sleep knowing there’s a cake in the fridge or nearly throwing up because I’ve stuffed my face beyond my body’s capacity to cope with it? I don’t know it is although on the surface it appears far more healthy, is it really?

I’m a total maniac, there is no other word to describe it and I’m making myself laugh now because that’s exactly what I am now that I just took a second to look at myself from the outside in (I love that blogging allows you to do that, even forces you to do that sometimes. Excuse me a minute while I go and enter a post on my music blog sharing Maniac from Flashdance as it’s so apt for how I see myself right now and it’s a song I love).

Back to the subject now even though I feel better for that moment of light relief: I’m a woman possessed, to get through a movie of my day quickly would not require a fast forward it’s just super fast forward as it is.

I really think I need to curb it a little, I think it’s doing me harm rather than good. I think it’s too much too soon, I’m feeling like I’ve been caught up in that tornado and I’m out of control and I really need to be in control of myself, that’s what this is all about. images (2)Addictions happen when we lose control or when we want to control too much and all I’ve done is gained control in one area and lost it in another. I need to be moderate. I need to be in a place where everything doesn’t have to be all or nothing,  where things do not have to be taken to extremes to be valid. I need to be able to eat what I need and exercise enough.

I really believe that if I’m to emerge from this healed and well mentally and physically I need to notice when I’m developing addictions and when I’m losing control or taking too much control and take action to moderate whatever it is that’s the problem. In that respect I’m glad that I’ve noticed this, I’m glad that in spite of things going well in my life, I’ve developed this sad feeling to indicate to me that something isn’t quite as right as I might think it is.  I do feel this is the problem, I’m over doing it, I’m exhausting myself. Feeling like I’m coping is an illusion brought on by the high of the addiction, the high of having my ‘fix’ which masks how ‘the drug’ is really affecting me. Just like it was back in the day when I thought food was making me happy.

Thinking back to Deb’s post I think what I’ve done without realising is dressed up the fear of heading towards a new me to look like enthusiasm and the very fact that I’ve allowed myself to lose control shows that it isn’t all enthusiasm, it’s still fear.

I still believe that the key to alleviating the fear is to take it slow, step by step, to get used to the new me. We change in so many ways on such a long life changing journey from super morbidly obese to normal weight. It’s not just about the outside but the inside. For once in my life I have not turned to food to comfort me when I’ve been feeling down and that is fantastic, it’s great it’s what I’ve always wanted but it’s so unusual for me to realise that, to have lost my appetite when things are bad rather than want to stuff my face, it’s just not me.

It’s a shock when something is just not you, more than you realise. It’s like you wave good bye to a part of yourself you’ve known your whole life, even if you’re glad to see it go, it’s a change, a huge change.

images (3)We experience so many changes we find ourselves thinking so often, that is just not me… I’ve experienced it with clothes I’ve bought, wearing bright colours and patterns is so not me. I love it, I think it looks great but it’s a huge shift in who I have been for so long, dressed in black plain clothes from head to foot. Looking at colours and patterns and feeling it’s OK to buy them to wear them now is such a huge change. It sounds crazy but it’s really not, wearing them is not me but it’s becoming me.

I’ve had my hair dyed back to my youthful blonde and had it cut into a style that just is not me. I love it, it looks fabulous and I see that it suits and flatters me but it’s not me and it takes getting used to when I’ve worn my hair the same way in the same colour for so long, scared to draw attention to me, hiding, trying to blend in. That decision to change it, to change me was a scary one, it took courage and every day I look in the mirror now I’m still surprised to see that hair colour and style on my head. It’s not me but it’s becoming me.

I swim and run and those things are just not me, I don’t do them and I love that I do them now but they’re new they are alien and take getting used to and sometimes when I’m in that pool in my swimsuit pushing through that water with other people around me and I realise I don’t care I’m also reminded that it’s not me. It’s not me to not care, it’s not me to be this big still and to be comfortable in public in a swim suit, it’s not me to be pushing myself through so many lengths in the morning before I go to work, I’m the person who swims for fun, couple of lengths, some breath holding, jumping the waves, falling off an air bed, serious swimming, powerful, aware of my muscles working, that’s not me, but it’s becoming me.

I have learned to let my man spoil me and pamper me and arrange surprises for me but that is just not me to be out of control and not to be the one making the arrangements and surprises and as much as I love it it isn’t me but I’m enjoying it and it is becoming me.

I’m starting my own business, it’s not what I do, what I do is work for other people and images (4)get frustrated by it but the confidence I’ve built from losing weight had made me change and made me believe I could be happier as a business woman working for me. It’s not me but it is becoming me.

You see where I’m coming from? I hope so. All of these changes are happening in one tumultuous short period of time. I’ve been me for 47 years, I’ve been this version of me for a few days, weeks, months and it’s scary. Daft as it sounds it is scary and it’s a lot to be happening at one time. My over zealousness is my way of  coping and I’ve worn myself out. I need to rethink and re-plan my regime and factor in some down time.

I had a word with my trainer today and he was shocked when I told him what I do every day, he said that I need to rest, I should have days where I rest completely and I don’t even have hours where I rest completely. He reiterated that if I was preparing for something or wanted to reduce or tone up fast then I can step my efforts up but for steady progress and over all kindness to my body I should be exercising less.

I feel like it’s one thing after another, I cure one thing and another one pops up but then I am not letting it get me down any further, I know there are lots of things to cure or resolve and it’s good that I’m doing this and making the progress I’m making and ultimately I will reach my goal healthy and strong in body AND mind. I need to spot my issues, I need to notice them and contemplate them and work them out so that I can find MotivationSteppingStonesQuotemy way to a better place where I can feel happy and healthy and stay that way. I don’t want to self destruct anymore, I don’t want to go back to the size I was, I don’t want to fall off the wagon before I reach my goal and being aware of all of my issues and hang ups is important to ensuring I succeed.  Sometimes stumbling blocks are actually steps up to the next level, to the next phase of the journey, they just take a little readjustment and setting straight before we can climb up on them that’s all.

 

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Vulnerability

This post was going to be about my first day back at work with a full day of classes on only one hour’s sleep but it’s changed. After a day of wholeheartedly smiling, welcoming, enthusing and inspiring (don’t I just love my job it’s awesome and so uplifting) and an evening spent being the child as my daughter displayed more insight and maturity than I can on my love life. However I raised that lady and at times I had to pretend I lost the Skype connection so she couldn’t see my smug smile of satisfaction and pride and mistake it for me not taking her seriously. An evening during which I hugged my son and listened to his dreams and for the first time could envisage him as a man and not a baby boy and where I spoke with my beloved and felt awfully sad that I’ve made him feel awfully sad but glad to have the weekend to look forward to, to work things out.

An evening where after all of that, plus eating healthy and exercising (I’m like a robot when it comes to the healthy thing now), a bit of work, some trashy TV with a friend who I didn’t want to talk anything but trivia with, I made it to the blogsphere and I found some fabulously uplifting and honest posts (I love honesty and respond well to it) and among them was this gem which deserves a post of its own. I would urge anyone who doesn’t feel good enough, who doesn’t feel worthy of love or good things, anyone who is unsure, who closes doors in front of their own face, who runs away rather than jumps in to watch this. Take 20 minutes, put your feet up, get a cuppa and enjoy, let it soak in.

Thank you for sharing this Cynthia, fellow blogger (Check Out A Passion Flower), blogsville friend and sister and fellow traveller to a new improved self. It’s hit the spot and I hope you don’t mind me making a post of it, I know some of my WordPress community will enjoy and maybe find this useful to make sense of their own lives.

I also unwittingly inspired myself to write my first musical blog post my  which I’ve been struggling so much with but in response to a comment I spilled out some words and realised they were the words to a song I love and I wasn’t sure what the rest of the words were so I went and I found the song and I was teary smiling as I listened to it.

What an amazing day it’s been, I’m grateful to have lived it and for everyone who has moved me and touched my life during it. I’m blessed. I really am. The WordPress community is the best, the honesty that gets thrown down into this public place to thrash out a worry or pain, to work through a problem to just have a rant, to share and help and uplift is something else.

Safely returned

Those first snuggles with the kids after an absence are just amazing. My heart is full. I cried and I never do that stuff I’m so emotional just lately. They had a great time and they loved the gifts we brought back. My daughter said that gifts are more than adequate compensation for being neglected and my son agreed. How fickle they are!

I came back to news that my mother’s very seriously ill in hospital and so that opened up a dilemma for me. I spoke to her, the kids had already been to visit her and taken gifts and done their bit. I’m not going to go see her and I know that whatever happens I will not regret my decision, she understands and I understand that is all that matters. Dilemma over.

So I had a little work to do and some calls to make and tomorrow we head off into the wilderness. Nick went straight home from the airport and I finished off the trip to my daughter’s alone which was strange after having spent so much time together. But it’s great to be with them. Our little triangle reformed.

We just went to the outdoor sports clothing store because, according to the kids, I needed rigging out with ‘layers’ and waterproofs and walking boots. My daughter had already established on my behalf that they did a plus size range and now I’m all rigged out which is a good job as it’s pretty chilly for August and drizzly weather is forecast and set to stride out into the green hills. The kids have researched and planned the trip so I’m leaving myself in their hands… I’m once again yielding control and oddly I’m finding this quite empowering. Who would have thought it that giving away control empowers you but it does. Control isn’t about managing or leading it’s about fear and so when the control is relaxed the fear subsides and you become stronger… that’s it in a nut shell. I get this stuff now.

We head off in the morning so tonight we’re going to the cinema and out for dinner and picking up some last minute supplies for our three days in the wilds.

Last day: sharks, pirates, boats, planes, control, fear, rebirth and more…

I’m having such a fab time if it wasn’t for the children I would find it difficult to leave but tomorrow that is what we shall be doing, leaving 😦

I’m so looking forward to seeing them again and hearing about their adventures and to heading on our little camping trip together which is going to be a whole world away from this experience in many ways but in others it will be similar, especially in a ‘bringing me closer back to nature’ kind of way. Perhaps more so as we are not camping in any parks but out in the wilds so we’re going right back to basics.

Setting the scene
Setting the scene

But back to where we are now. The past two days we spent on a hired yacht, well 24 hours from lunch time to lunch time yesterday but what a delightful 24 hours they were aboard our borrowed 70 foot floating villa. In some ways challenging as I’m so full of energy right now and being cooped up in a relatively small space is not good when you’re bursting with energy but I found ways to cope.

We swam. I finally laid my fear of shark attacks in open water aside and enjoyed it although tentatively at first.  I did an aerobic workout to some music on the deck and we did some middle of nowhere Tai-Chi twice. Once in the pitch dark and once as the sun was rising. We ate dinner out in the middle of a dark ocean. If you’ve never tried it it’s a bit scary I’ll tell you. You hear things, like splashes and can only wonder what made the noise and you see the odd light but nothing much else. We weren’t too distant from shore but distant enough for it to be a far off strip of light.

I wished I’d never watched Captain Phillips as I developed a sure and certain conviction that we were going to be boarded by pirates even though the modest crew assured us that was not going to happen.

It’s rather a primitive state of existence out there, it’s like someone switched the responsiveness of your senses around. You suddenly hear things you wouldn’t normally detect and you see things you really don’t notice… like the stars. Oh wow, the stars are something else when it’s pitch black on Earth. Electric lighting has robbed us of a veritable nocturnal spectacular for sure. I’ve not seen a sky like that in so long, maybe back when I plodded my way around bits of Africa.

I think focusing on the night sky finally enabled me to lay my fears and anxieties aside. We’ve done some snuggled down night sky gazing from our accommodation and from the beach but the spectacular really revealed itself out there that night with no light contamination from anywhere. I realised lying there that my irrational anxieties about being boarded by pirates, fear of what was swimming around us in the darkness, my feeling of helplessness on the sea were all born of my need to be in control. If you can’t see, if you don’t know where you’re going, if there’s nothing to listen to, if there’s no point of reference for much, then control is taken away from you. There’s not a lot left for you to actually take charge of, other than yourself.

I kind of had the beginnings of this epiphany while we were flying over to Miami, I hate flying and that is simply because I have no control, I can’t see where I’m going so I feel very much at the mercy of someone else. Realising this helped me to relax and enjoy the flight so much more. It was easier to this as the way we flew meant I did feel closer to the seat of control,  perhaps more influential, although in real terms of course I had no control at all. Just thinking of those things helped me to understand my fear, rationalise it and enjoy it taking a back seat for a change. It wasn’t gone but it wasn’t at the forefront of the flying experience like it normally is.

Back to the boat…I had nothing to do and no part to play in where I was going, I couldn’t see much and couldn’t hear anything familiar and it was beautiful but unnerving to the point where the beauty was in danger of evading me. It was only when I was made to look up, in fact I didn’t need to look up, the sky came down to meet us, but when I was made to look at it, it was only then that I really appreciated my insignificance in terms of time and space and I realised that I’m not really in control of anything anyway. I asked myself what do I control at the end of the day and do I need to be in control of anything at all? Does holding the reins really make me feel any better, does it serve any advantage or is it actually detrimental to my enjoyment of life? I’ve had a good chat with myself if nothing else.

I had a lovely talk with Nick about this too, about how much of what happens to us happens anyway and will happen anyway and so we may as well just yield to it and go with it, not fight it, not try to control it. It’s a place he’s already in and has been for some time and he laughed as I joined him there.  I thought about how I could see the stars but if there had been anyone near one of them they wouldn’t be able to see me, I’d just be lost in the darkness, nothing, invisible, unseen. I wondered if trying to control anything was not only pointless but put us in danger of enjoying the real delights the world has to offer which can only truly be enjoyed when we lay ourselves open, bare and without the shackles of what we think of as essential for life.

I realised eating disorders are all about control, I don’t have control issues because I have an eating disorder, I have an eating disorder because I have control issues. I’ve always felt like the world was against me, like I had to fight something for what I wanted, like I had to prove myself, like there was an invisible or even visible enemy always trying to thwart my attempts to achieve anything. That battle’s been going on since I was a cute little girl, it’s why I’m so feisty and always have been, I’ve been fighting my whole life for acceptance and I finally see that I only have to accept myself, I can’t control what anyone else does or thinks, I don’t have to influence their actions, it’s not my fault if other people are unkind, unhappy, uncaring, unloving, all of those ‘uns’. It’s not my fault and I don’t have to try to change them. All I need do is be myself and concentrate on making me happy. Funny thing is, the less I try the easier being happy gets.

I don’t know it all got very deep out there in more ways than one. I just felt an even more profound sense of relaxation on a whole other level. In short… I’m so insignificant nothing really matters, that could sound pretty morbid but it’s not, it’s far from it.

I’m going through some kind of awakening. I really feel that I’ve been in a mid life crisis for the past 5 years or so and this is my emergence as an ‘elder’. I feel like I’m shedding my youth skin and growing a new mature layer which is richer, more flexible, more comfortable to live in. I’m feeling very much as if I’m on about my fourth phase of life and that I have more phases yet to experience.

I think that I was unwittingly mourning my youth, mourning the woman I’d lost sight of, floudering in a world where I didn’t fit, I didn’t want to fit and I wasn’t sure of my place or what I could bring with me, but now it’s all clear, I know who I am and what I’m bringing, I know where I’m going and I know what there is for me to do there and I’m relaxed and happy to be on the journey, I’m not fighting anymore, I’m not worried about pirates coming to rob me, I’m not worried about nasty people coming to hurt me, I’m not worried about anyone taking anything from me, I’m not letting a fear of shark attack stop me from enjoying the freedom of swimming in the ocean, I’m opening up my doors and not worrying about who is going to come in, I’m just grateful for the light and air that can make its way through now.

It’s a great feeling. When I started out I saw this as a caterpillar to butterfly like journey and I thought that it was all about my weight and my  health but it has turned out to be about a catharsis so much more deep and meaningful than that, it’s been about my transition through the final part of the middle phase of my existence it’s been like a rebirth, like I was being prepared and this last bit is the squeeze through the canal into my  new life and I feel like I’m about crowning now and on the cusp of something wonderful, something I had feared and fought and didn’t feel I’d earned the right to yet and that is a relaxed, self indulgent, worry free middle age. I don’t need to be a kid to be happy. I don’t need to feel old to be a grown up. I’m a vibrant, beautiful, happy woman who has achieved so much and has so much yet to achieve.

I might not feel like that in the next couple of days out on the cold Welsh hills in a tent with a tin of beans but I’m going with it and whatever happens, happens, it’s a new experience and I get to do it with the people I love the most, my amazing children… something I undoubtedly did well in my life and have not celebrated anywhere near enough.