Eleanor

eleanor

She stood alone atop the hill. Her back turned to all she had ever known. There was no returning now. Her choices had been taken from her. “For the good of the community,” they had said. So she had left; she had taken her power back.

It was a solitary place to be. Atop the world, all alone, uncertainty paving the path forward.

Pulling the cloak tighter around her shoulders, she prayed. To whom she no longer knew.

Symbolic Guns

It’s a mindless kind of driving that happens in the mornings. The same route as always. The same songs on the radio. There’s always construction somewhere. I never remember much of the drive. Nothing much changes to spark my interest, to make my brain hold onto it.

The traffic light is red and I tap the wheel impatiently. As always, I am running late. Do the traffic gods not realize this?? The light remains red, almost in defiance of my irritation.

I stare to the left. I generally look to my left when I’m bored. Why does my head turn in that direction effortlessly. Does it not like my right side as much? (My thoughts are very deep and philosophical in the morning. please note the sarcasm.)

The statue on the small strip of grass rises above the dust and fumes of summer traffic. Dressed in Revolutionary era garb it seems out of place in the fast paced metal and rubber world of the 21st century. Gripping his rifle he stares into the middle distance. He’s clean shaven and his boots look new. No one looked like this during the Revolutionary War. This statue does not represent the real men, but the conquering nation as a whole.

Now my brain is interested. I’m sure I’ve seen it before but this time I remember it. I hold onto it. And I am bothered.

I have seen many statues like this one. Similar ones are in almost every city I go, in the United States of America and abroad. They symbolize bravery and victory. In the case of the Revolutionary War they symbolize the beginning of a nation. Why must these symbols always carry guns? Sure, soldiers technically won the war. But not these soldiers. Not these perfect, clean, well dressed soldiers that the statues are. And there’s no sign of the many civilians who hid them, who fed them, who worried for them, and who mourned them. No sign of the PTSD and internal struggles those who survived had to live with.

Wars are often won by military might and the people who support them. But nations are built in the aftermath. They are built by politicians and by farmers. They are built by teachers and doctors. They are built by carpenters and social workers. Why are they not represented?

We say we pray for peace but we build statues holding guns.

I’ve Fallen Down. Again. No Surprise.

I haven’t written anything in a while. And my twitter has been pretty silent. This happens from time to time when my anxiety levels ramp up. When life gets too busy. When the noise of my life begins to overwhelm me. I shut down. Take a step back. Do the bare minimum and power through.

I’ve been drinking coffee again. And until this morning hadn’t meditated in 2 weeks. Always signs of a mini crisis for me.

There are days, weeks, months, when things run smoothly. Life seems to progress quietly and I feel in control. But that sense of control is an illusion and quickly ruined by reality. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes it’s one colossal thing that brings life screeching to a halt. Other times its just a million little things that sneak up on you until you are in the middle of a giant fuck fest. The latter has been my issue recently.

I made a mistake in my teaching style and was called out on it. I had to talk to my supervisor and boss, who supported me, and then deal with the drama of going back into the classroom and continuing on. My car broke down and needed over a grand worth of repairs. Where to get the money for that? I got accepted into grad school (yay!) and I now need to juggle full-time work and part-time school. Two friends started nose diving as well and needed support and help. And it’s busy season in general at work.

I don’t do well with all that. I thought I was doing fine until I found myself with back problems once more and overwrought emotions. I cried over a bottle of wine. I cried with my cat (she didn’t seem terribly interested). I cried alone and with people. At work I sucked it up and plodded on. Smile and nod and do your job. I was -I am- not happy.

What’s the lesson I am learning from all this? Why am I writing this?

In part I’m blogging because it’s very cathartic to say I’m miserable. To admit that I have all the tools (faith, meditation, friends, yoga, family, anxiety medication) but I still fucked up. I let life unbalance me.

But I think that’s why I’m putting this out there. My faith gives me a strong belief in a God and a vision and peace, but it’s still not enough. I read all these blogs where people are finding themselves and giving advice and occasionally just making me laugh, and that’s great, but there really isn’t an answer for how to manage life.

I wish there was. I keep hoping someone will stumble upon it.

However what I’m learning is that there isn’t an answer. Life is messy. Like children, the minute you think you understand it or at least have a handle on it, it changes on you or goes entirely to pieces again.

Put another way, life is a continual process of falling down and figuring out how to get back up. So I need to be more forgiving of myself when I find myself on my ass.

So I’m sure I’ll post something soon, I have a few ideas. But right now I’m still nursing my bruises and looking for a way back.

Anna

Image

 

She let the wind whip across her face, kissing it with salt. The smell of fish filled her senses, erasing the memory of all previous smells. Letting her hair twist and toy with her cheeks, it felt like she had never been anywhere else. With eyes closed she could imagine herself as ageless, as always having existed on this beach in this moment. Arching her back further, she almost believed she could fly.

Accepting the Negative Feelings

My second session of meditation was good. It incorportated some yoga and I left feeling refreshed, like the last time.

My third meditation session however was more of a doozy. I don’t know what it was. I had had a fairly good week. I was sick at the beginning of it, but by Saturday I was able to celebrate a friend’s birthday and had loads of fun. Yet when I sat down to center myself and began to focus on my breathing, my brain would not shut up. My anxiety levels would not dip. In fact, I felt more and more irritated and upset with myself.

It was the usual montage of self doubt and self hate: why can’t I be thinner? why can’t I have / why don’t I want a boyfriend?? why can’t I have more friends??? why can’t I do something more productive after work, instead I just sit around and watch crap tv?!!!

I eventually got into a routine of breathing. in and out. in and – shut up brain – out. in and out. i have many friends and am just fine. in – stop feeling bad, let go of the emotions – and – let go of the emotions – out. LET GO OF THE EMOTIONS. in and out. in and out.

I did not have fun. my body was relaxed but my emotional landscape was a battle field. I drove home crying.

Why did I still harbor so much anger towards myself? Why was I judging myself so harshly? Why couldn’t I just let things go?

I immediately went for a walk around the block. In my yoga pants and combat boots. Thanks to my years of eating disorder recovery work, I knew that sitting in my home would be the worst possible way of dealing with these foul thoughts and negative feelings (yay for coping skills!) so I didn’t even go in the house, I just started walking.

It was on this walk that it hit me. I was mad at myself for not liking who I am. I was mad at myself for being unable to control the negative thoughts. I was mad for not being everything I wanted to be. And I was mad for not being able to let go of the anger. No wonder my head was cram full of negativity! Not only was a doubting myself, but I was also angry at myself for feeling that doubt! I was just piling on recrimination over more recrimination.

Besides, I told myself as a marched past picturesque homes and beautiful gardens, what’s so wrong with being confused, and insecure? I’m allowed to be confused and insecure.

I stopped. It felt like I had been holding my breath and had just let it out. I’m allowed to be confused and insecure. I’m allowed to be confused and insecure. I’m allowed.

Thinking it even now makes me positively giddy. I have spent so much time recovering from my eating disorder and figuring out that I have an anxiety disorder, which causes mild depression, that I forgot how to let myself feel bad.

During the recovery and self discovery process I have learned to talk back to the negative thoughts in my head. To find the positivity that has been buried in me for so long. To learn to breathe and be more zen and accepting of who I am. It turns out I forgot to learn how to accept that sometimes we will feel negative things. Sometimes we will feel bad. And we don’t always have to fix it right away. Without an eating disorder, every negative feeling will not become life threatening. I AM ALLOWED TO BE CONFUSED AND INSECURE. I am allowed to be scared.

I started to repeat that over and over with each step. I started to expand the concept: I am allowed to not like what I weigh. I am allowed to do something about it and eat less. I am allowed to do nothing about it and eat the same. I am allowed to eat more.  I am allowed to not want a boyfriend even though that means I might end up alone.  I am allowed to go on dating sites and find myself a man. I am allowed to do nothing about this and let things happen as they will. I am allowed to end up alone in life. I am allowed to be scared about that. I am allowed not to be scared. I am allowed to be angry that my grandmother died. I am allowed to fell numb. I am allowed to mourn her loss. I am allowed to bottle up the grief. I am allowed to be obnoxious. I am allowed to be kind. I am allowed to have no friends. I am allowed to have billions of friends. I am allowed. I am allowed. I am allowed.

Permission. To feel everything. Permission to do something about those feelings. Permission to do nothing about those feelings.

It was madly liberating. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why.

Now when my anxiety ramps up, I close my eyes and breathe. In, “I am allowed to feel anxious.” Out, “I am allowed to not feel anxious.” In, “I am allowed to try to deal with my anxiety.” Out “I am allowed to do nothing about it.” In, “I am allowed to hate myself.” Out “I am allowed to love myself.”

Today, do yourself a favor. Give yourself permission.