I can has boundaries?

I have been limiting some consumption lately and that brings up issues for me, and since I’ve got this Internet, I may as well share…

So, Internet I’ve been thinking about this stuff… boundaries.  I spoke to L, and she’s one of my dearest friends.  Because I have some issues around eating, drinking, talking, sex, smoking.  I enjoy a lot of the benefits and positive aspects of those things…  I think a good blog post would be to outline the pros and cons of each of these for me.  But not now, because that would be a distraction and this is my blog, not yours so quit being bossy.

OK, so right… L.  I was bemoaning something to her as I always do.  I think it was something about impulse control.  There are several ways that I drink.  Happy, light, social drinking and then there’s a glass of wine drinking, and then there’s woman on a mission I don’t want to feel what I am feeling any more drinking.  This last drinking concerns me and causes me pain.  So, I was hung over in Orangevale, and I looked at L and asked why I do this.  She gave me that, oh sweet baby look, that makes me want to curl up in her lap and have her pet my head.

“You have impulse control problems.  It’s because of your cult.  When you were raised, you had to fast once a week.  So, even if you were hungry as a little kid it didn’t matter.  You were told when to be hungry, and had to eat until you cleared your plate.  It makes sense that you have no sense of portion control and that you use food to comfort or punish yourself.  It makes sense that you developed sneaky behavior around food, since your food was so heavily moderated that you had to get what you could get when you could get it how you could get it.”

I said I guess that makes sense.  But that’s food, what about the crap that comes out of my mouth and the drinking and smoking and everything else.  I have a lot of fun, but there are certain parts of it that just aren’t healthy…

Then a pure light shone from L’s halo and she said unto me (maybe I’m getting a little dramatic here), “It’s the same thing.  A lot of times you say things to get a reaction, and sometimes you don’t stop until you do.  A lot of times, you drink a lot and don’t stop until someone notices and says something.  A lot of times, you smoke cigarettes and dare people (silently) to confront you. You weren’t allowed to think your own thoughts or make your own choices.  And even when you spoke up for what was right for you, you were frequently beaten down for it.  So to survive you made other people’s truths and stories about you, your truths and your stories about you.  I think a part of your path now is to win and fail and bruise your shins and totally fuck up, to find your own boundaries and your own comfort level.  I think that food, booze, smoking and all of that is just a symptom of your bigger task right now, which is to find where your emotional boundaries are.  What do you need to do to keep you safe, happy and healthy in the world?”

I love L.

And I’ve thought a lot about it.  Because in a lot of ways I have chosen people in my life who have really black and white thinking, and some with black and black thinking.  I have chosen the ass-kickers and the shit-talkers because they will say something to keep me in line.  Because as L says, I grew up inside out and wasn’t allowed mental or emotional boundaries.

And that in my life, I have made people near and dear to me into my parents again, into my pastor again.  People that should have been my lovers, my business partners, my friends have been cornered by my behavior until they have to speak up.  I am so tired of that, and my new relationship is pretty terrifying for me.  He’s compassionate, he knows I’m in flux and he gives me space to do what I have to do as I figure out where I stand.  Because a lot of times you figure out what a boundary is by stepping the hell over it and looking back and saying “ouch, maybe I should have stopped back there…”

My friend D told me that I was the most dynamic and competent fucked up person she’s ever met.  I responded back, I guess I am just the Strutting Wounded.  But I think that we all really are.  And this is what growing up and overcoming is really about.  I don’t want to blame, I just want to heal and also find others like me who know what I am talking about.

Schezuan Enchiladas

So, I called my dad yesterday. I rarely call, because I like my distance.

I asked how he was doing. He said he was in a car accident the night before. Hit by a driver who ran a red light. His head hit the driver side window. He saw it coming and had then chance to slow down a little, it’s not bad, he’s fine. He was put in an ambulance and taken to the hospital, given an MRI and home in two hours which is pretty unheard of.
I told him a story about my friends and the birth of their second child and how there were some issues. I said I was grateful that if it had to happen that it was their second child because things are hard and scary enough with the first child. He made this joke, “And the second child is disposable…”

 

Of course, I’m the second child. Bwahahaha I have no worth or value. I’m angry because I didn’t say anything. I’m disappointed because I laughed along with him. I have known and not known for a long time that I am brainwashed around him. I have a lot of problems standing up to him, unless I feel in danger. This isn’t a huge deal or a new trauma, I just feel a little sad about it because I have always wanted him to love me in the way that I want him to love me. And he doesn’t. Sometimes the people that are genetically tasked to you are unable to fill your emotional needs. It’s like going to a Chinese restaurant and being disappointed every time they don’t have enchiladas. I need to stop going there.

My first pair of GoGo boots!

I had wanted a pair for so long, but they didn’t make them in my size.  I was devastated, I would try the boots on and they wouldn’t zip up.  I had been losing weight for a while and was averaging about 5 pounds a month for 18 months straight.  It was about to be my 30th birthday.  I was having a huge birthday party at my house.  We had rented a pool table for the kitchen, a foosball table for the living room, a stand-up Galaga, our swimming pool was ready to go, the barbecue was gassed up and the piñata was full and ready to have the crap beaten out of it.

A few days before my birthday, my BFF A and her husband M had purchased me a birthday present.  I couldn’t wait, and we opened it together.

HOT

PINK

VINYL

GOGO

BOOTS

squish

It was like slipping my legs into shiny sexy candy.  I was so excited, I had been losing so much weight and hadn’t tried a pair on in a while.  They zipped almost all of the way up.  I was so sad, but they WERE SO CLOSE, I had to keep them.  A said that I was losing weight so fast let’s just hold on to them for a while.  I loved them…

The day of my birthday I was nervous to put them on.  A came over early and helped me and my partner (now ex) get ready for the party.  We tried on the boots again, and I couldn’t believe it. On my 30thbirthday, they zipped up, all the way up.  And I strutted around for hours, so excited!  I called up her husband M, and said… “THEY FIT, THEY FIT!  Thank you, it’s a birthday miracle”.  And my dear friend M, said in a way that only he can….  “It’s like the baby Jesus killed your fatted calves for your birthday.”  I laughed so hard that I cried.

I have had many pairs of boots since then, but these my first will always be my favorites.  I laid them to rest this year because they had seen about 10 parties too many.  But they are immortalized in my heart and on the web.

RIP Pink Boots.

boots

Compassion: Part 1

Growing up as I did, surrounded by religious fundamentalism and extreme, chronic physical abuse, I felt as though every physical or emotional ailment I had was because of a mental or moral failing. What I mean is that when I was sick I was told it was because of hidden sin, and if I looked deep enough in me I would find what needed to be confessed. This worked and really stimulated the hyper-vigilance aspect of the PTSD that I now suffer from.

This symptom of my physical abuse has manifested in my adult life, I see all of the results of how I grew up. And I feel that I should be able to get over it, that if I can only be morally or mentally stronger then I can find my way through the effects of my abuse. But the more I try to muscle through, the more I am unable to get past it.

What is terrifying to me, is that the thing that seems to be working is compassion. Compassion is scary, I feel that if I am kind to myself and allow myself to seek and accept the healing that I need that I am giving into it. I have been trying to muscle through the pain for so long, and now I find that my struggle is in letting go and seeing it for what it is. It is a perfectly normal reaction to a situation that was abnormal, abusive and unhealthy. I can’t force myself to get over it. What I can do is accept that in this time in my life I have the time to heal. And that I need to take it.

Last week, I had an example of this. I was fine, I was doing ok. And then I heard yelling and the banging of someone’s hand on a desk. It terrified me, and I suffered auditory flashbacks (also a symptom of PTSD) and all of a sudden I was a little girl again and there was a very large oak rod about to swing into me. I spent the next 72 hours with insomnia, flashbacks, panic attacks, nausea and I almost fainted again.

Yes, I was a victim of abuse for a very long time. Yes, I am a survivor. But my path now is to walk through those stories and those pains so that I can heal on a deeper level and work through the PTSD that can debilitate me at any time. And for me so far the key to that is a huge helping of compassion.

I am doing a lot of this work on my blog, because I know that I am far from alone in my past, my pain and my path toward healing. I feel like abuse is a cycle and that there is an expectation of shame and silence that hushes sufferers. I feel that abuse is a much bigger and more common problem that we talk about and silence about it just encourages the cycle. And so I am starting to speak out about my past and my recovery. I don’t want pity, I want healing. And I want to hear from you how you have healed.

Especially other PTSD sufferers.

A Lesson in How to be Cool

Step 1: Go grocery shopping alone.

Step 2: When people engage you in conversation in line, respond back and try to be nice

Step 3: realize they aren’t crazy people, but genuinely rad people

Step 4: think about how open and wonderful you are for talking to strangers

Step 5: engage the shopping clerk and the nice line people in sparkling conversation

Step 6: think about how you are a fabulous social hub

Step 7: pick up the plastic shopping bag with the sparkling apple juice

Step 8: don’t notice the bag has a hole in the bottom of it

Step 9: Try not to wince as the carbonated apple juice explodes as it hits the floor

Step 10: put the empty bag down

Step 11: look proud as they announce on the speaker “Clean Up in checkout”

Step 12: look proud as all the people you were talking to ask if you are ok

Step 13: look proud as you realize you are sticky up to your knees and covered in glass shards

Step 14: wait when they tell you to wait for the mop guy

Step 15: feebly attempt to look proud as you realize the puddle at your feet is getting really dark because of the old sneakers you are wearing

Step 16: try not to bolt as two mop guys show up and another runner guy shows up to get you another sparkling apple juice

Step 17: try to crack a joke by telling all the nice people who are now waiting as you become “that girl” that you just wanted to make sure the floor was clean for them.

Step 18: try not to melt into the floor as you almost slip in the leftover juice

Step 19: leave the store as soon as you are able

Step 20: sigh with relief as you are finally in your car

Step 21: try to get over your stickiness using brain power

Step 22: Failing that, suck it up and drive to the next errand

Step 23: be grateful that nobody at the next place was at the grocery store

Step 24: as soon as you are inside, try to pretend that your sugar coated sneakers aren’t going SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK with every step causing everyone you walk by to look at you

Step 25: Hope that at least this will make a good blog entry as you drink away your shame

Step 26: mmmm rum

Deep Thoughts

I have never seen a person grow or change in a constructive direction when motivated by guilt, shame and/or hate.

-William Goldberg

What if everything we did was motivated out of self-love and compassion for ourselves?

Memory Lane: Sway

It was your typical camping trip: a few hundred costumed people, art, music, and bonfires. I was dressed as a very cute bumble bee, and on one of my feet, there was a big boot. It was in an air cast because I had a broken toe. I was alone that night, except not alone because I can always find friends wherever I go. I trust myself to find friends.

I walked past the fortune teller and went to the karaoke camp. The karaoke was blaring over the generator that powered the rig. An older lady walked up to the microphone and they started to play Sway by Julie London.  This woman’s voice was heaven. And a friend that I had met earlier that day came up to me and said, “didn’t you say you used to dance?” I said, yes. He held out his hand, I accepted. He used to be a ballroom dancer back in the day. Now, we are dancing in the middle of the woods to this song. I have a cast on one foot and a hiking boot on the other.

I love to dance, and every dance tells a story. When you’ve got a good partner and you trust yourself, you can do the most amazing improv. And that night we rivaled Fred and Ginger. Rise and fall, give and take, dip and bend. It was beautiful. Having this body has been an adventure. From national award winning dancer to morbidly obese at 265 pounds to a healthy weight again, I am not nearly that big but I am not a small girl.

It’s hard to trust my body to do what it is capable of. To relax into a dip to the ground, to trust that this older gentleman can support it and that I can do it. But that night I had perfect faith in my strength, his strength and the moment. Even with a cast on my foot. We were completely connected and watching each other to mimic and create each move in perfect unison. Challenging and daring each other to go bigger.

I’ll never forget this moment and how a bumble bee in a cast and a man dressed as a genie rocked the karaoke camp. Perfect moments serve as a bookmark in your life. I could have said no thank you. But I said… yes, and… And saying “yes, and…”  has served me as a human in the world (or a bee) and as a business owner.

How can we make this bigger, better, more perfect? How can I challenge my skills and my perceived limitations? How can I relax and surrender and trust that the magic will happen when I allow it?

Say yes.

Figure it out as you go.

But say yes.

Awkward First Post

I know a thing or two about a thing or two.  And this blog is the start of a vision, the continuance of a journey, and the closing of a book.  I, like every other human on this planet, have been on a journey and I want to write it out.  I am starting to braid together all the pieces of my fragmented self.  Because I have suffered from fragmenting my world.  How do I explain?

I felt like I had to separate all of the parts of me… How can I be an award winning business owner and a sexual being?  How can I be a public speaker who has the ability to lift up and inspire when I was denying core parts of my heart?  How can I be a survivor of horrific physical, psychological and emotional abuse and try to connect and be a healthy functioning member of society?  How can I have gone from an award-winning dancer and dance teacher to 265+ pounds and down again?  How can I have an eating disorder and throw large fundraisers around chocolate?  How can I be a spiritual being and a party girl?  I don’t know, but I am.

There are so many parts of me that contradict.  And trying to segment them all led me to the second largest breakdown and reincarnation in my life: the first happened at 17 when I was disowned, and the second happened right before I turned 34.  Now, at 34 I am willing to look at my past, present, and future and to braid together and accept all of the parts of me that I have tried to protect myself from.

The more I talk, the more I connect and the less I feel alone in my path.  Because I have realized, that there are so many others that are fighting for their paths, step by step.  Others who are surviving and making beautiful, abundant lives out of their exuberant, confusing and painful paths as well.

So this is my story, I am still writing it because I’m not dead yet.  Oh, and I really like boots and shoes, but more about that later, we’ve got time.