Freaked out but happier than a pig in sh*t

pig

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” ~ Marianne Williamson.

I have been neglecting my blog for a while now, with good reason: for the past month or so, I’ve been doing a virtual Editorial Apprenticeship at Elephant Journal!  Most of what us apprentices do is receive submissions edit them (sparingly). We also do social media, and are to write (at least) two pieces a month.

It is a lot of work, and I am learning so much.  I’ve had to make some sacrifices (mostly in the ‘play’ element of my life, but also it seems as if chores and exercise are going by the wayside). Some days are freaking amazing, others are a bit of a struggle: what am I doing well? What can I improve on? Should I/can I write more? What can I write about? Am I learning enough? Am I fast enough? Do they like me?

It is the perfect thing for me right now. It is exactly what I need to do. I felt it in my gut the moment I hit ‘send’ on my letter of interest.

But at one point the other weekend I started to panic. I went into this sort of paralysed state as I faced the ele writing and editing work that needed completion, even though I’d created plenty of time and space for it. I’d even had a wonderful Saturday, complete with some morning work, a massage and some fresh air and social time at the horse races, one of my favorite places.

Yet my shoulders were pulled up to my ears, my forehead was crinkling up, and I was retreating into a ball on the bed.  I was paralyzed out of fear.  I had to go into myself and really investigate what was going on.

My life had been improving vastly over the past few months.  More and more I was realizing that I had (or could have) much of what I wanted.  At that moment, in actuality, there was nothing wrong.

So why was I feeling so…stuck, when everything was going perfectly?

I realized I was freaked out because I was actualizing the fact that I really do have the power to design a life that I love, to do something meaningful with it.  And although this required work, it was work that didn’t really feel like work.

Everything was (is) coming together, and this is the biggest piece of the puzzle to fall into place yet.

So when I fell into that funk and started to resist the work out of fear, I forced myself go to the computer and just start.

I realized, then, how talented my brain is at problematizing! My mind is (our minds are) really good at creating problems that don’t exist. In some weird way, finding something to worry about comes so naturally, it’s almost like some strange security blanket.  Like, neurosis is my ‘go to’ when I’m feeling some sort of stress, even if the source of the stress is actually good!

As I recognized this, I pushed myself into my work a little bit more.  Brain went wayward again…and I brought it back.  Slowly but surely, this became easier.

I worked through that fear, and I recognized when I started to feel better.

Then I realized then that maybe my fear stemmed from the fact that I could actually succeed. Maybe I was finally doing something that truly made me happy, and part of the stress stemmed from wanting so much to succeed.

I reflected then on the things that had brought me to the place I am at now, and a lot of the shifts coincided with me sharing my writing, and my passion for it.

It began after I broke up with my boyfriend and subsequently published my first piece at Elephant Journal. People saw it, people read it, people resonated with it.

Due to the breakup, I was also developing new friendships and strengthening some existing ones. These people were openly supporting me in my work, and truly interested in the things that come out of this crazy brain.

These were people that genuinely resonated with what I need and want in my life.

They know that this is my purpose, and they support it 100%.

Which made me start to believe in myself more.  So I wrote a little more in my blog, and I published a couple more pieces at Elephant Journal.  Then this writing helped to facilitate more new relationships and experiences.  It was me pursuing this, being vulnerable, that allowed others to see the real me.

As I reflected on my path from the last ~ 8 months, I made the most important realization, one that must continue to be a main inspiration for me on this journey (no matter how scared, or tired, or stressed out I might feel):

When I write, everything else falls into place.

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Hello, Alone, How Are You Today?

Sometimes, when I’m by myself, my mind reaches back into some other time when I felt safe, secure companionship, from a relationship that ended not so long ago.  My brain automatically, instantaneously classifies that past time as “good”: safe, secure, comfortable.  And classifies now as “bad”: lonely, unsafe, lacking meaning.

It all happens so fast that I don’t even know it!  And suddenly, I feel lonely.

As an only child, a natural introvert, an HSP, and someone who has not had many long-term (serious) relationships, I’ve spent many moments by myself in this life.  I should, by now, have so much practice that I’m really great with it: the thing is, I’m not always OK with it.

The video below, How To Be Alone, by poet Tanya Davis, offers us a glimpse of just how great being alone can be.  Take a look.

Sometimes it’s easy to see the beauty of alone.  Sometimes it takes some practice.  It is always, always important to be aware of your solitude, to practice being OK, to practice play.

And always, some days are better than others.

But the times that you have to really focus on your aloneness are those times when you start sinking into loneliness without realizing it, when it sneaks up on you like a disease.  When it starts to creep in without you barely noticing  then all of a sudden you really are lying in a pile on your bedroom floor (which is also perfectly OK, btw) for no real reason.

Or, maybe you have anxiety attacks, but only when you are alone.

Does your own company, your own mind, really have to cause you that much grief?

For me, today, right now, I’ve resolved to not go there.  I’m not able to spend money (I’ve resolved to never again use the term ‘broke’, because that implies that something is broken, a vessel empty, but that is a whole other blog entry).  I’m OK alone, in my somewhat messy little cheap apartment, in the middle of a rainy-day-grey-Vancouver-Sunday.

I could (as I have many times), allow myself ‘get’ grey, feel lonely, but I’m practicing just… not.

My brain (society) is so deeply conditioned to believe that alone = bad.  Even with all the new-agey hype about the concept of making friends with solitude, that habitual thought pattern is still engrained in my brain.

But in reality this moment of alone is just as good as any other.  Or, if we want to get all Buddhist about it, it’s neither good or bad.  It just is.

Today I made one promise to myself, a promise that I boldly (in bold!) proclaim to the world (or at least my small blogger audience, and a few friends):

I will not equate being alone with sadness.  

I mentioned earlier that I’m an HSP, which means I’m a very sensitive person, swayed easily by the energy of others.  I’m learning to do this in only the most positive ways, to let others lift me up, and to use my influence to help others, even when all that entails is listening well.  It’s taking time to learn.

But as an introvert, I find I need time alone to recharge.  I need time alone to just be, and not have to navigate through so much external energy.  It can be exhausting.

In fact, when I’m around my most energetic, interesting, intelligent and wonderful friends, sometimes I find myself most exhausted!  Which does not mean I don’t want to be around them, it just means that I want to (do) absorb everything they say and do, and when I can’t I don’t feel quite so devoted.

I want to be fully engaged and connected to those who I know and love.  And when ideas are bouncing back and forth and conversations and ideas flowing, it’s so overwhelming!  Wonderfully overwhelming. But I need time to sit back and process after those times.

Alone is fine.  In fact it’s great, because here there is noone to energetically sway me.  I can’t hide here, but I can go here to recharge, to refuel.  It is such a blessing, really.

So, why not try it: if you are alone, be strong and bold in your aloneness.  Don’t wish for something else, just be (interested) in this time you have now.  Get used to your own company.  Do your thing.

You can view it as making friends with solitude, or, just being.  It could just be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself.

Thank you for every single solitary thought and gesture that ever happened.

12 Tips for getting through a breakup

Well it’s time for me to write the post, the one that almost everyone seems to write at some point or another: steps for getting through a breakup.

I am just in the first stages of separating with my live-in partner. We have lived together for about a year, dated for over 1.5. Although I truly believe that it is the best thing for us, my mind and heart are swirling: rejection, sadness, love, anger, yearning for some way to ‘fix’ everything and carry on. In writing this out I hope to bring some clarity – and hope – to other broken hearts out there.

1. Accept the change. Transition IS a part of life, and often we get stuck in patterns that seem comfortable but may actually be unhealthy. If you and your partner aren’t both equally putting the energy into sorting out your problems, or are not being totally honest (with yourselves), if you feel isolated, or the relationship isn’t evolving in a way that is meaningful to you, it is not a healthy relationship. Period. Doesn’t matter whose fault it is or what happened, it’s OK to take some space.

2. Create new ways of thinking. We all know that meditation, journalling, councelling, etc. are healthy ways of getting through the pain. But overall what is needed is a push to retrain our brain into just being OK in this new situation. Whatever therapy works for you to practice reworking your brain a bit, find it and force yourself to do it regularly, instead of curling up into a little ball.

3. Find your flow. Flow states can help us to step away from anxiety and depression. Usually they are not passive activities, but activities where you feel fully engaged. Depression in itself is the opposite of this, and may make us think we want to stay curled up in a ball. Do everything you can possibly do to convince yourself otherwise, then go and do your flow thing.

4. Believe that you are better off this way. Even if you have to fake it, write it in your journal a hundred times, ask others to tell you – it’s the only way you will have faith in your healing and your life.

5. Get through it, not ‘over’ it/the partner! Don’t be afraid to go through the grieving process (in an appropriate way). Let yourself cry, kick a punching bag, eat a bit of ice cream. Don’t begrudge yourself for grieving and being emotional. It is a confusing and disheartening time for everyone, but you will get through it.

6. Choose who to lean on, respect their boundaries, and respect the fact that you might be super sensitive right now. Sometimes we can encounter (perceived) negative judgements from even our closest friends and family. Or sometimes others may not be able to give us their full attention. Ask for a good time and make sure you have their full attention, and make sure that you can give them yours too.

7. Listen. It can be so easy to become engrossed in your own grief that you are self-absorbed, but, remember that other people need you too. Your own compassion can go a long way towards everyone’s healing. In fact you probably know someone who is going through or has gone through something similar, if not much worse. Be there for them.

8. Let love free you. I know that it’s the cheesiest line ever, but if you love them, set them free.

9. When you notice yourself missing a particular thing, do it for yourself!  For instance, if your partner cooked for you regularly, do this for yourself (or friends or family) and make it a special occasion. If you miss your partner kissing you goodbye in the morning before work, pretend to kiss yourself goodbye with that same love! It may sound ridiculous, but anything you can do to redirect those old patterns of ‘directing’ love is super important.

10. Don’t engage in unhealthy behaviours to distract yourself. Of course we will want to have a beer with a close friend and decompress, or maybe go dancing with a girlfriend. That is totally normal. But do not let yourself go overboard with this kind of thing. Especially not drugs or sex!!

11. Learn how to enjoy your time alone (again). I was alone for a long time, and when I entered the relationship, there were so many things about the daily companionship that I was grateful for. I expressed this to my partner many times. But I also learned from within the relationship that practicing being alone, no matter what, is always a good thing.

12. Do not rest in the ‘fantasy’. I still have visions and memories of times when it was good, of how I really wanted it to be. And the reason we split up is because it just wasn’t like that. My partner couldn’t offer it, maybe I wasn’t offering it either. Set a realistic vision for your next attempt at a relationship, and work towards that. But give it to yourself FIRST.

Every time I have been in a relationship, I have ended up unsatisfied. I can’t exactly say why, except that I do offer and expect the best. I expect us to cherish each other’s souls, bodies, lives- even the crazy parts. I expect there to be a relatively equal amount of give and take, of space and togetherness, of mutual support and self-sustenance. I expect for us to be able to grow together, have adventures, and generally just be OK when things aren’t that exciting!

I (we) tried for the best, and the experience was great, but it just didn’t last. And I think that I deserve the best. Don’t you?