On: Yoga Reunited

It’s been a few days since my last confession. The main reason being that I’ve dedicated some time to a yoga program I just started. That’s not a very good excuse because it’s only 30 minutes total out of my day, but I’ve had a difficult time maintaining structure in my days for the past couple weeks so I’m using this yoga program in attempt to fix that.

Did I mention my wedding is in November? That’s also been a motivation to want to get fitter–although the motivation has not been so strong as to have kept me from having a cookie and iced coffee for lunch today at my favorite coffee shop. This month I need to get my dress altered for my body too. I feel a little anxiety about that–mostly because I haven’t chosen my wedding shoes yet which I need for the alterations. Warning that I’ll probably write more on those in another post.

The yoga program is structured in such a way that requires you to dedicate about 15 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every evening for 30 days (or longer). What caught my attention is that it touts improving your flexibility and easing lower back pain. The instructor, Jacquelyn Umof, started her career as a ballerina and Laker girl. I’ve been passively following her on Instagram for a few years now, initially because she posts lots of detailed pictures that compare correct versus incorrect postures in yoga poses, which I’ve found helpful.

Throughout the practices, Jacquelyn instructs to let go of any thoughts or feelings you have connected to the pose you’re in. When people hear that I danced for over 15 years, their assumption is that I’m flexible. On the contrary, flexibility was one of my biggest struggles in dance. I never could fully do the splits, though I loved the exhilaration of leaping across the floor during technique practices. I didn’t let it stop me from performing choreography, but I always felt inferior and spoke negatively to myself during stretches at the barre. My hip flexors and hamstrings have always been tight. Even when I broadened my fitness horizons with running and yoga, they remained tight. For my tight hips, and primarily for my low back pain for the past couple months, I am motivated to dedicate this time to myself each day and keep with it. Starting the program is an investment for me. Not just for myself but also to pay for the program and recommended props. No, I never used props in my yoga practice before, but let me just say–using them (and I’m only on day 5) has made all the difference. Yoga blocks, a strap and bolster have been amazing to incorporate into my practice. I’ve even used the blocks and bolster when not doing yoga. I use the blocks to sit on the floor so my spine is aligned more comfortably, and I use the bolster under my knees while sitting on the chaise of the couch. I feel a little silly writing this, but those props have changed my life and how I think about my body.

They’ve also changed the way I’m aligning myself in my yoga poses. The strap allows me to keep my spine straight without overextending my shoulders, which I tend to do in sitting and standing forward folds. Also, if I want to stretch my back and try to release my psoas, I’ll lay on the floor on my stomach and prop up my lower belly with the lowest or medium height of a block. In doing that I typically have a little discomfort, but it’s not unbearable–it’s simply like I’m stretching a tight muscle.

More than anything, I’m enjoying poses more with the props. They allow me to let go and stay in tune with my breath more. I believe time and practice with the props will enable me to let go of old thoughts and feelings associated with certain most poses. A dancing background provided me with many positive things, but also made me long for the svelte gazelle physique of a ballerina, of which my body is just not capable. I’m only 5’4″ (and a half) and a little more on the stocky/athletic side. Some moments I’m at peace with that. Other moments I look in the mirror and, like many women (or people), don’t like what I see. But Jacquelyn has said to be thankful for your body and what it allows you to do, how it allows you to move. And like I’ve written in a previous post, I am so grateful for my ability to move, especially to use my legs even if they aren’t the most flexible. With time and practice, I have faith my body and mind will catch up with each other and I will be able to, in Jacquelyn’s terms, experience the beautiful experience of being me.

 

May good things come to you always.

On: #MeToo (Two)

In my previous post I wrote about a job I had generating corporate contracts for salespeople.

Salespeople are charming, charismatic, entertaining folk. Okay, maybe that’s my biased opinion. I happen to think they’re some of the mentally strongest people around and I admire their strength and persistence.

They are often awarded for being outgoing and tenacious. In my experience, I’ve had one sales manager be outgoing enough to make an unwelcome advance toward me.

This particular person and I were, per my understanding, platonic friends. When I visited his territory during a trade show, we coordinated to go out after to have a friendly meal and watch some live music.

The meal was delicious and I felt comfortable. While at the club watching music, the dancer in me was so compelled by the blues band I had to get on the dance floor. He and I danced together but separately in the crowd facing the band. I was especially sure to keep my personal bubble intact during that time, as we had run into a few other coworkers at the club and I didn’t want anyone to have the wrong perception. I was enjoying myself and the company in an unfamiliar city.

Until the taxi ride to my hotel room. When we said goodnight, he asked if I wanted him to come up and tuck me in. I declined. As we said goodbye we hugged, because I come from a generation of friendly hugs despite my personal bubble. As we hugged I felt him kiss my head.

I was very uncomfortable after that, but made it up to my room safe and alone. He addressed the incident days later in a phone call and subsequent text message in which he ended our friendship.

Where did I go wrong? In fact, I’m pretty sure I did nothing wrong. Was the rejection to tuck me in not heard? I know it was.

I’m yet another example of a woman’s rejection that was heard by the aggressor and not heeded. I’m also another victim where intentions on my side seemed apparent, but were not made clear on the man’s side. Why should it have been my responsibility to confirm his intentions? Why wouldn’t I just assume that we are friends, not something else?

The Me Too movement has highlighted the subject of communication among consenting adults. Between corporate interactions, however, is there ever an appropriate time for this sort of conversation? I’d have likely been less offended and kept my distance if he had made his intention clear from the beginning. I also recognize that one of the funny things about human feelings is that we don’t always know when we feel them. Sometimes it’s hard to be so self-aware that you’re developing a crush for someone until you’re full-blown in that crush. But what do you do? What if that crush is on a coworker? What if you’re both single consenting adults?

I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I know these are areas in which corporations need to open conversations and create tools for their employees. It’s unrealistic to think that people can’t find love with one another in a workplace, but it’s also unrealistic to think that employees know how to navigate those conversations on their own. Egos around potential rejection aside, there’s also much fear about what could happen to your employment and confusion as to how one can move on.

 

May good things come to you always.

On: #MeToo (1 of a few)

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve struggled with understanding my personal boundaries. I feel this has caused me to become victim to certain advances that wouldn’t  be tolerated by a normal, healthy person.

The Me Too movement has further helped me understand this feeling. Hearing the stories of other victimized women makes me wish I had spoken out against my experiences when I could have affected a change. Despite my missed opportunity to change the environment in which I was working at the time, I know I have space to put my experiences down here.

A few years ago, I worked in a corporate role in which one of my main tasks was to generate contracts for salespeople. The contracts varied in length but were over 100-pages long at times. My team and I totaled 3-5 people which varied on the year because of turnover. We were expected to generate an average of 30 contracts each, per day, but it could get upwards of 50 in which case we would fall behind on other duties and end up staying late. This role acquainted myself and most coworkers with people across departments because we often required special pricing approvals to proceed with generating contracts. In doing so I made friends, but was also made a victim.

Via a friendship with a sales representative, I came to know a director on the marketing team. There was something about this director that didn’t sit well with me upon our meeting. He often appeared to leer at myself and other women in my department which made me feel uncomfortable, but part of me suspected that because he was culturally different than I (he was raised outside of the United States) I might have been misinterpreting something. After being out with him one time with the sales rep and a couple of my other mixed colleagues was when his persistent directed harassment began.

He began by asking my colleague and I to lunch. We agreed to go, but in private she and I agreed we’d only go together. We got through lunch with some leering but no commentary. Then, on the drive back in which we had all carpooled in his car, the subject of hairstyle came up. He said something to the effect of, “I like a woman’s hair short, like a young boy.” At the time, I had short hair and I was instantly quite disturbed by his comment. My colleague laughed, which instigated my laughter too and somewhat calmed me.

Days after that lunch, that same colleague and I were approached by him multiple times for lunch and dinner. We accepted because we thought we were being treated. We seemed to talk about work a good amount of the time, and he paid for our meals during those dinners (probably expensing them). At one dinner he even took us to a fancy steak restaurant. The last dinner we had with him was an offending one, however. Quite out of the blue while I sat at the table next to my colleague, the director brought up the subjects of his wife’s acceptance to open their relationship and also erotic asphyxiation. Shortly after that subject, my colleague and I excused ourselves to the bathroom. We were both in shock, but she seemed calm which appeased me. Though she didn’t want to take the subject of conversation any further, she also didn’t seem to take offense to the subject to the degree in which she wanted to talk to human resources about him.

After that dinner he continued to approach us to accompany him for meals, but we politely rejected saying that we were busy. The asking occurred every time he came across us in the building, but we were persistent in our response. Just persistent asking like that may even be perceived as harassment, but my colleague and I let it alone.

One evening, while working late, I heard footsteps enter the area in which my cubicle was located. I peered up to see who it was over the cubicle wall, and it was the director.

He said he was hoping another person in contracts might be around, but I was the only one there. We made small talk, then he said, “You need to tell me when you are available to have a meal.” I told him I was busy and must have postured myself in a way that expressed discomfort which prompted him to question whether something was wrong. At the time I blamed it on my shoulder (I had been experiencing shoulder pain during that time), and he suggested he would massage it. I politely declined and he insisted. I don’t know how long the touching occurred, but each second was as shameful as the next. I went home soon after feeling so disgusted and also fearing for my job and life.

If ever a boundary was crossed, that was definitely a huge one. First rule in  communication among employees–never put your hands on anyone for any reason. After that incident, I stayed as far away from him as I possibly could. If I heard his voice down the hallway, I’d go out of my way to rush in the other direction and hid to the bathroom. I worked at that company for at least 5 years after the incident and he’s still there. It pains me that he may be preying on other naive victims who are too afraid to speak against him. He’s also received promotions since the incident and has an even higher rank of power in the company than he did when he was harassing me.

I have since left the company to pursue other goals. A year after I left, he called my personal cellphone and left a voicemail, asking to call him back so we could catch up. I have since blocked him on my phone and on all sources of social media. I’m now certain enough about my experience and self-worth to know that what he did was wrong and exploitative, and that because of his position of power he should especially not have put myself or my colleague in the situation he kept pursuing.

If there’s any deeper message I can convey to anyone in a similar situation reading this post, please let it be that you did nothing bring this upon yourself. You don’t deserve this treatment, not matter what was said or done before.

 

May good things come to you always.

On: Self-blame

I came to the realization journaling today that, as part of my end to emotional cutting, I can stop blaming myself. It’s been a liberating realization thus far.

In my previous post I’d mentioned how my dad used to spend hours in the bathroom during my time at his house. As I got older and learned the reason for my mom and dad’s separation and ultimate divorce, lots of things became clear.

Aside from my dad being a controlling alcoholic, he was also a hoarder and compulsive caller of phone sex lines. When I was older, I remembered there was always an ash tray full of cigarettes when he was done in the bathroom, and he was always on the phone while in there.

This epiphany came over a decade after I came across one of his hoarding treasuries.

My dad kept the phone and answering machine in his bedroom. Any time he listened to messages or used the phone, he would either go all the way in the bedroom and shut the door behind him or stand halfway in and halfway out between the half-closed door. If he did the latter and I got close, he wouldn’t let me in.

At about age 7, bored and grown-out of the toys I had at his house, I mischievously decided I was going to sneak in my dad’s bedroom. The opportunity came while he was having one of his several hour-long car wash sessions in the backyard. I checked to see that he remained outside, kept an ear for the hose running on the car, opened the bedroom door and quietly creeped in.

Stacked in piles that went up to my knees and higher sat pornographic magazines. I don’t remember having much of a reaction, but I recall feeling confusion and disgust. It wasn’t long until my dad walked in.

“I didn’t see anything!” I whined rather guiltily. I knew I had seen more than I ever wanted to see.

His response was simply, “Some things are private and we don’t tell people.” In other words, You are going to keep this a secret. And, with the exception of a few close friends, my mom and Bill, I have.

Until now.

Do I think his secret is something for me to share? No. Do I know that this is a necessity as part of my healing so that I can move on with my life and become the confident woman I see myself becoming? Absofuckinglutely.

No, it’s not my fault that my dad was irresponsible with his pornography stash. It’s also not my fault that I was alienated and alone and didn’t tell my mom about this until my mid-20s. She knew he had this issue, but other than the phone sex line compulsion I’m not sure how the pornographic magazines manifested themselves when they were married–maybe he kept them in the closet (literally and figuratively). Also, my dad’s house had only one phone line, so I sure couldn’t call her when he had the phone with him in the bathroom (not that I’d really want to do that anyway, because I often didn’t want to worry her).

It’s not my fault that I was an innocent, curious child with nothing to do but read books (which I wouldn’t have chosen to do since I wasn’t fond of reading at that time).

It’s not my fault that my dad expected me, a child, to act like an adult. That was an unrealistic expectation.

Overall, I’m not responsible for the errors my parents made in their raising me.

I’m only responsible for my willful pursuit to heal as an adult. I’m sure this is just the beginning, but I’m willing and pursuing.

 

May good things come to you always.

Discovering Codependency

In the reading I’ve been doing over the past several days, I’ve come to recognize just how codependent my tendencies have been.

Part of my tendencies have been out of coping. When my fiance was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted nothing more but to spend as much time with him as possible and to be as helpful to him as possible. Consequently, it did mean I gave up much of myself as I was commuting 120+ miles round trip per day and often worked hours that were (probably illegally) long. His chemotherapy treatment was especially aggressive as his type of Non Hodgkin’s is aggressive. His oncologist insisted that he stay away from public spaces as often as possible and resided in a clean space. I took this to heart and made sure I thoroughly cleaned our apartment before he was released to be back home–he received his infusion in the hospital, 24 hours a day for 5 days.

During that time I’d maintained some degree of personal care, but toward the end of that 6-month period much of it was lost. I was an exhausted shell of myself, and that’s only from the caregiver’s perspective (imagine what the patient actually going through treatment feels like). The most caring thing I did for myself was find a job closer to our apartment. Finding it came after the 6 months of chemotherapy, but I’m not angry at that–I’d felt more job stability in my previous job despite the grueling hours because I was more familiar with it and had been with the company for nearly 7 years.

Codependency is, among many things, about boundaries. Boundaries are something I didn’t necessarily grow up with. I was the only child and my mom insisted on knowing where I was and, lucky for her, I was pretty darn obedient. I never had a lock on my bedroom door. The only TVs we had in the house were in my stepdad’s den and the living room–I never had one in my bedroom. Our first computer was located at the desk in the entryway of the kitchen (don’t ask me why we decided to put it there). When I got my first laptop at 18, I finally had a virtual “private space.” I lived in that house with my mom and stepdad, with one bathroom, for almost 20 years. It was rather frequent that I would wake up in the morning and my mom or stepdad would be spontaneously hosting a guest, be it a family member, neighbor or friend without letting me know.

When I think about time before that, I can see how I kind of existed at the mercy of other peoples’ schedules or pre-determined schedules (however arbitrary). I went to my biological dad’s house every Thursday night and spent every other weekend with him. While there, he spent hours in the bathroom (the reason for which I’ll reserve for another post) while I waited around alone in his house that he and my mom once lived in. The toys I had there I’d mostly outgrown by the time I was 6–most of my fun toys were at my mom’s. I did bring my special stuffed animals with me from my mom’s, but those were mostly just sleeping buddies. I have a lot of memories of imagining that the curb outside his house was the edge of a skyscraper and I had to balance along it while walking. When I lost interest in that, I was a giant peering down in the river, also known as the gutter in front of his house. The last attempt to entertainment was poking at earthworms in the gutter with sticks, but once I realized they might still be alive I stopped doing that.

My dad always had his dry cleaning hanging in the doorways, including the one to my bedroom. I might have closed that bedroom door enough times to count on one hand–which didn’t have a lock either. As I got older, I found myself changing clothes in the bathroom or closet for some semblance of privacy.

A lot of my family comes from a similar upbringing (I think). My mom tells stories about how she got angry as a little girl because her parents hosted so many out-of-town guests for weeks on end, she eventually yelled at everyone and told them they needed to go home. It’s a cute story now, but based on what I’ve heard about my grandparents when my mom was growing up I’m sure she was probably punished for being “rude.”

And that, right there, is the skewed perspective. But it’s also somewhat a cultural one. My maternal grandfather grew up in Mexico City with multiple brothers and sisters. My maternal grandmother grew up in Texas with, again, multiple brothers and sisters–she’s also made it sound like she lived in poverty as she’s imparted wisdom on me such as, If you can’t afford soap, you can still use hot water and elbow grease. (Fun fact: I’ve used boiling water to sterilize my mom’s and stepdad’s plates and utensils when they had gastroenteritis and I didn’t get sick!) They come from big families. They come from a background of little to no boundaries. But, they didn’t think outside the box either. They didn’t provide a list of hotels to potential guests instead of offering up their kids’ beds to sleep on–mind you, while the kids slept on the floor. I also imagine they probably took advantage of the kids’ perception that sleeping on the floor was a novelty.

I’m so grateful I never had to experience that. My mom loves my grandparents and, while she acknowledges they did the best they could with what (materially, emotionally, mentally) they had, she knows there are things that could have been better. She recognized that and did the best she could with what she had for me.

Culturally, there’s another thing to be said about the women in my family. For whatever reason, we seem to have been raised to be job-minded, not career-minded. The implication there is that a job is short-term and a career is long-term, as in short-term planning versus long-term planning. It begs the question, are we worth planning long term goals for ourselves? I know we should be, but I don’t necessarily feel ready for it yet and I’m 32. On trend with the rather current topic that long-term employment is shifting, my opinion about being career-minded is starting to shift too. This is based mostly on what I’ve seen my mom’s brother do over the last 10 years. He was a first-generation university graduate and he also got his master’s. He works for a county Health Department, but has started teaching courses at a university in the last few years. In essence, he’s what I’ve read Brene Brown allude to as a “slash.” Health Department Supervisor/ University Professor. I do like the idea of freedom in that slash. It’s comforting to me, because it makes me feel like I wouldn’t be putting all my eggs in one basket; however, I’m a believer that writers become masters of many things through their research, so if I pursue writing I can’t say that would necessarily be all my eggs in one basket.

So I guess that’s a long-term goal right there–writing. I’ve been doing it on and off since I was 9. But is a writer a writer if no one reads their work? Is my desire to write a symptom of my codependency?

I have to be open to finding out.

 

May good things come to you always.

Inspired: I’m done with emotional cutting

Well, at least I’m taking a step to being done.

 

First off, I want to mention this entry is inspired by Alexi Wasser’s Ravishly article, How I Nearly Let Instagram Ruin my Relationship. I can’t express how I appreciate her frankness and vulnerability. Also, I’m pretty sure she’s right–“all women look at and are hyper aware of their crush’s activity on Instagram.”

I’m going to take her subject a level darker.

I secretly followed my ex on Instagram.

I’d blocked him on Facebook after our breakup so I wouldn’t look at it. I even blocked him on Instagram. However, I have more than one Instagram account, so I used one of the other accounts to virtually “check-in” without him knowing who it was. I wouldn’t comment on or like anything. I would just observe posts and commentary. My honest understanding of my ex is that he’s an emotionally unstable creative-type. Part of me wanted to know he was OK. Part of me wanted to remain informed so I wouldn’t be caught off guard. Part of me also wanted to know that he was still pursuing his creative ambitions successfully. Then there was the part of me that would get angry to see he’s still living at and working out of his mother’s house (in his early 30s). The worst parts of me laughed when he praised a family member for creating something that got “honorable mention” at a county fair. It was a mean laugh too. It was a laugh that cried out, Honorable mention? That’s worse than not placing at all!

That “mean laughing moment” was the final straw. Keeping up with the emotional cutting via that medium has only made me bitter and resentful, and overall just hateful. I don’t like that mean laughing part of myself. But I’m trying to be compassionate with myself too. This mean laughing part of myself is a step in my healing.

If I’m going to be really honest here, I’m saying that I started my relationship with Bill sooner than I probably should have. I didn’t heal from my breakup before starting the new relationship. That mean laughing moment also points out that I haven’t yet fully healed.

My relationship with my ex was laden with codependency and attachment. When it ended, I knew I didn’t love him anymore, and I had known for some time. I believe there was a period in there that I did love him. But the relationship ended the way it had begun–from a platonic love. I loved him like a friend, not a lover. I think it had even been a couple years before we broke up since I’d loved him in a romantic way. It was wrong to make it last as long as it did, but in the thick of it I didn’t know better, nor did I have much to compare it against.

There are times I still miss my ex’s platonic friendship. Also, aside from the inappropriateness of maintaining contact with an ex that I’m actually not up for pursuing, I do vividly remember many qualities about him I didn’t like, and I’m not willing to be patient with those qualities anymore. I gave up so much of myself trying to maintain space for those qualities, and I don’t have room for that in my life now. I also just don’t want to

Beacuse I’ve moved on. And I keep moving on. I’m getting married in November, to a wonderful man about whom I love everything. Of his many beautiful qualities, he’s amazing and so understanding with my family, which my ex never really was (his mother was very domineering). And my relationship with Bill has taught me so much. Above all, my relationship with Bill has taught me that life is too short to do things you don’t want to do with people you don’t really like. Cancer has a way of coloring a perspective like that.

I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, and looking forward to the experiences life holds. So let’s keep moving on.

 

May good things come to you always.

Self-Care Extravaganza!

Hey!

I guess I’m pretty ill-prepared for a self-care themed blog, because I not only learned today (July 24th) is International Self-Care Day, but I also discovered that an International Self Care Foundation exists. Before you click on that link, I will share with you that it’s based out of the UK and supports only the UK and Hong Kong so if you’re from and residing in the United States of America (like me), happy reading from a 3rd party perspective because it’s not a tool for us.

But it is a tool for us, because it allows insight to the way other cultures perceive self-care and it’s importance.

Or maybe the lack thereof.

I think it’s important. Not only is it important for me, but quite necessary.

This afternoon after sitting and writing in a cafeteria, I found myself wandering the nearby shopping center. In the center is a store called Anthropologie, from which I’ve always appreciated the clothes and aesthetic. (Fun fact: I bought the dress I’m going to walk down the aisle in November from the bridal portion of the store called BHLDN.) While in there, I couldn’t help but be awestruck by all of the self-care paraphernalia amassed toward the back of the store. There were crystals and crystal pouches; teas and tea detoxes; protein powders and cacao nibs; masks and vitamins; bath salts and bath teas; water bottles with glass bubbles in which sat more crystals. Side note: Why are crystals such a craze these days? I think they’re pretty, but I don’t know the science behind them–I got a C in Geology some 10 years ago. This bottle didn’t get great reviews. (Laughing.)

Anyway, I can’t help but wonder about this self-care movement, if that’s the right term. Is our culture finally taking back our personal time after generations of it seeping into our jobs? Is it purely a symptom of our jobs sucking up our personal lives, along with other anxious side effects? Or maybe it’s related to changes in our health care system?

I can speculate motives day and night, but all I really can do is just sit here completely baffled still by all the literal CRAP I saw there, trying to bait every woman who crossed it. I, too, was tempted, but I’m not willing to pay $100 for a mass-produced crystal quartz. (No, no–I’ll be at the Gem Faire for those things. Let me know if you’re going to any in Southern California!) Alas, Anthropologie, your intoxicating Capri Blue candles’ aroma ain’t got nothin’ on my willpower… or bullshit meter.

The thing is, self-care can be all or none of the things they’re selling. Today, self-care for me was braiding my hair (to keep it off me during this muggy season), doing a little window shopping and accepting compliments from a sales clerk. Most importantly, it was not really buying anything. It was getting a little buzzed while sipping my skinny cadillac margarita alone. It was also finishing a can of mango La Croix and taking an antacid after said cadillac margarita. Self-care was allowing myself to enjoy the moments I had throughout my day. Above all, it’s been reflecting on my moments and writing these entries.

I’m going to sign off this International Self-Care Day with artwork specific to self-care from an illustrator and writer I follow on Instagram, Mari Andrew. Mari’s work is so beautifully vulnerable, sensitive, and honest. I find it inspiring and I hope you enjoy it too.

MDK_grinbearselfcare Intl SC day

 

May good things come to you always.

On: cracking nuts

Instead of cracking up.

In my previous post I’d written about directed actions from people. That was a passive mention about something that was occurring real-time. I was ready to be settled in the conclusion that people don’t do things directed at me most of the time, and that thinking such is a self-absorbed perception of another reality.

As it turns out, I think I was wrong about at least one instance. I find myself falling into the trap of broad brush “reasoning” quite often. It’s part of the perfectionist in me that wants to control outcomes and simplify results. But I know I need to open my mind, because life is shades of gray, not black and white.

Over the weekend, I came across a YouTube video, quite randomly, about narcissists. I can’t confirm that I actually know a narcissist–I’m not exactly the type of professional to diagnose someone with such a disorder. I can say I know someone who displays qualities of a narcissist.

The narcissist is someone who feels the need to one-up other people with respect to material things, personal experiences, work, and relationships. At every gathering they attempt to be the center of attention and subject to others’ envy. They are driven by competition, because they lack healthy human qualities like empathy. They are insecure that they will be found out, so they deflect by displaying they have everything you don’t. However, if you are the subject of their competition, they want what you have and they can never possess unless they seek healing.

I was feeling envy about this person and about to submit to the logic that I was not a subject of their attack. Then, a day later, I saw that YouTube video. The following day, I went to a gathering and that person was there. I made a point to remain disengaged, authentic to myself, and observe that person from a distance. And I’ll be gosh-darned if those qualities weren’t displayed at the gathering! They attempted to single guests out to get their attention. They pursued the host when the host was giving me the tour of the venue, even though the person had been to that venue several times before. They even left the gathering early! Strangely, everyone at the gathering seemed to have an understanding of that person’s antics and essentially ignored their cries for attention.

It’s comforting to come to the realization that I was not as delusional as I’d made myself out to be. It’s not as comforting that I almost convinced myself to believe otherwise. Among countless other things, I’m learning that I need to work on trusting myself. I guess now is as good a time as ever to admit (and submit to the fact that) I’m an ongoing work in progress.

 

May good things come to you always.

Walking

In my first post I mentioned I like to be up and about, walking. Technically, I wrote I like the idea of it, but I like the action of it too. Of all things I’m grateful for, my ability to move my body is one of the top things. I have seen people in my family struggle to stand up and walk with balance.

I’ve mentioned that I also love to dance. Dancing is a part of life to me. It was, officially, for over 15 years when I danced in recitals and taught different styles. At 21, I moved 400 miles away from home and the studio I’d danced with since I was 4. When I left, the owner (and my manager) told me, “You’ll be back.” He had an offending tone when he said that. In my years there I had seen people come and go and return again to that studio, either after they graduated college or while they figured out what they were going to do with their lives. I had no desire to return teaching there. I always wanted better, whether it was more discipline, structure or constructive criticism. I felt like a big fish in a little pond and I was ready to go beyond that feeling.

It doesn’t change the fact that his lack of well wishes for me hurt my feelings. Every year at the recital when people chose to leave, he would announce it to the audience on the last performance. When I left, he said nothing about me. I still don’t understand why he did that. It made for awkward conversations with students and their parents after the recital, when I still had to teach a few classes at the studio.

It was a similar sensation on my last day at my last job. I received LinkedIn messages and texts from coworkers, wondering where I was or went. The most graceful way I know how to handle those situations is to fade into a hallway and disappear as silently as possible. I guess I’m easily embarrassed. Perhaps it’s just that I have humility. Of course, here I am putting a lot of things out there into the internet world that I haven’t before. It’s not even so much that I want or need people to read this. It’s the act of my putting it out there, making myself, my feelings, my thoughts vulnerable to judgement and criticism.

But I’m digressing.

I like to walk and move, and for the last couple months I’ve found I have to. Not too fast and aggressively. It seems over the last several years of having a desk job, I may have atrophied some. On my 32nd birthday (2 months ago), I found my lower back in excruciating pain. Over the following several days it seemed to get worse, and Bill finally got me in to see his chiropractor. I’ve been going to him ever since and it’s seemed to help, but this week I’ve had a flare-up of the pain. I’m pretty sure long hours sitting in a car to and from Monterey last week, and sitting with few breaks at the computer to work on wedding invitations and this website this week are the culprit.

Coincidentally the pain prevents me from sitting or laying down very comfortably. Even standing and walking gets painful, but it’s more comfortable than sitting or laying down. The worst pains come from the act of sitting down, in the midst of standing up after laying or sitting down, and bending over the sink to wash my face and brush my teeth. Squatting without purposefully engaging my core is also no fun.

If I could describe the pain, I would say it feels like my pelvis is in an ever-tightening vise. The doctor said the pain comes from a tight psoas which has caused some anterior pelvic tilt, and it causes the other muscles around my hips and pelvis to tighten and spasm. This makes my posture rather crooked at the hips when I stand or walk until my muscles finally relax.

Yesterday Bill and I walked about a mile and my muscles finally began relaxing toward the end of the walk. My body then reverted to the spasms after the walk, which made removing my tennis shoes and socks pretty painful.

The coincidental part of this all is that my body is basically saying, Well, you said you like to walk, so now you have to. Move it! Despite my limited capability to move, I still have to.

Another coincidental part of this is that I started hiking at a nearby recreational reserve a few weeks ago. I just bought hiking boots last week. I think the switchbacks will be a little too vigorous for my body at this time, so I’ll have to take a break until the spasms subside. But I can take walks around the neighborhood and continue to break in my hiking boots maybe. There’s a park near my residence too.

(Just changed positions from sitting at the dining room table to standing at the kitchen counter.)

Standing certainly feels better. What is it about standing? Is this the universe speaking to me to stand up for myself? (Laughing as I wrote that.)

I don’t know why things happen when they do. Nothing ever makes sense. But my only choice now is to keep moving. (Can’t help but think of this song whenever I hear that word.)

 

May good things come to you always.

On: self-aware and self-care

I’ve been in a self-development phase for at least the last 4 years. I realize I’ve manifested many of the changes that have come my way. When I think about them that way, I’m actually pretty proud of everything I’ve done. But moments still exist when I get down on myself about where I am, how I am, who I am.

I’m developing that awareness muscle for those moments and that negative thought spiral. I can’t deny that it’s difficult. It’s a sort of muscle memory, or maybe a neurological one. But I recognize doing things in my old way doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t gain me any happiness. It doesn’t provide me with any positive wealth.

I’m also, more recently, in a phase where I’m trying to understand why I feel what I feel. I’m especially trying to drill down to the origin of the feeling–from where it stems, to what part of my personality does it speak. The most difficult thing which I aim to apply is learning to love and accept the things I do not like about myself.

Did I mention I’m a perfectionist?

Well, I am. Not the type-A kind, though. I’m the kind that feels like I’m lazy so I freak myself out in order to spring into action. I’m also the kind that will spend hours on Instagram and not feel like she’s just lost hours of her life, nor recognize that she’s just gained pounds of insecurity from comparisons.

Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” from my previous post was recommended to me for a particular line. “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Yes, that was me a week ago falling down, deep into a comparison spiral. Yes, I am aware of how self-absorbed those thoughts become. Why is s/he doing this to me? Why is s/he trying to compete with me? Uh, hello? Maybe s/he isn’t? Could it be possible that s/he is really just doing something…for her/himself?

No–it is really all about me. At least in this blog it is. When I’m going down that spiral, I can only see myself and the carnival mirrors around me reflecting back distorted images of my gigantic face, my broken, gnarled arms, my bulging midriff, my humongous clown feet.

I am learning my perfectionism is Fear talking. Fear that what I have and what I am are not nearly and never will be enough. But I don’t aspire for debt! I aspire for abundance!

Somewhere in me I know I can be my own judge on what’s important to act. I’m worthy of judging what I need, and what is right for me. I don’t want to feel unworthy anymore. My values are worthy. They are abundant in worth.

So, to stop that feeling guess what I have to do? Feel them. Sit with them. Drill down to the core of them. That all takes time and energy. The energy I have. The time, though, is sometimes hard to come by.

My personality and my phase in life require me to maintain a good amount of alone time. Alone time while cohabiting a 900-square foot apartment with my man is a challenge. I’m not complaining about my situation, of course. I’m grateful for it. I’m complaining about the effort required to self-care.

It is also difficult for me to balance alone time and social time. I have friends (I think). Sometimes they want to spend time together sooner than I can afford because I have a self-care debt. I have a hard time owning up to this because I think it’s difficult to understand. I find most people to be substantially more social (hello, comparison spiral), but I know I’m worthy of my alone time so here I am.

Bill is working in his office all day. I have been working on my website format and this draft. Mostly I have had some decent alone time today.

On the brighter side to taking the time I need to myself, I find I am becoming more myself when I am around others–I engage better (probably because I’m rejuvenated). Also, I find myself to be funnier. I do tend to make people laugh, intentionally or otherwise.

So, self-awaring and self-caring–is that the right way to say it? They go hand-in-hand. I have to do one in order to have the other. And here I am, doing it. Here’s hoping practice will make me…. not perfect, but able to love myself more.

 

May good things come to you always.