NO MORE

Warning: this blog contains swearing and references to Jesus, read at your own risk!

Today I have woken up angry.

I’ve had enough.  I’ve had enough of a lot of things.

Listening to the same old thought patterns in my head, dealing with the same old destructive habits, feeling like I’m going round and round in circles, running on the spot and sinking in the same old crap at the same time.

And you know what?

Bollocks to it.

Bollocks to every last sticky, slimy bit of it.

No moreIn this last couple of weeks I’ve had what appear to be symptoms of the right side of my heart being severely enlarged. I’ve been exhausted in the evenings, especially if I’ve exercised in the day, and I’ve had some palpitations and times of mild breathlessness when I’ve been at work not doing anything particularly physical – like just sitting in a meeting and talking. And this is not ‘normal,been busy, not enough sleep’ tiredness, it’s proper ‘body feels like lead, can’t move’ exhaustion.  I even fell asleep sat upright on the sofa while I was reading on Saturday, like an old lady!

But it’s not even that that’s making me angry – it is how I’ve been responding to my emotions towards it.  It’s how I respond to lots of stuff that I find difficult.

I go on massive self-destruct mode internally, and it shows in how I personally treat myself emotionally and physically.  How I display manipulative, addictive behaviour around food – like eating 1 biscuit in front of people at work with one hand whilst using the other hand to stuff 5 more biscuits into my pocket to eat when I’m alone.  Or when I stop eating altogether to prove that I can go without.  How I feel crippled by fear – fear of being vulnerable, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of staying the same.  Then the covering up with lies.  Then the guilt, the shame the self-victimisation.  And it goes on and on and on and on and on.

And 

I

Have

had

ENOUGH

I know I need to ‘soothe’ myself and ‘be kind’ to myself.  I know I need to love myself more, focus on the positives, let go of yesterday and not give up.  But today I say bollocks to all that mushy, sloppy, hippy, yogurt-eating, sandal-wearing, tree-hugging stuff as well.  Today I simply say, ‘NO MORE’.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

So I’m going to stop.

I’m going to stop focusing on losing weight.  I’m going to stop trying to hide. I’m going to stop running away from myself.  I haven’t got the energy for it any more.  It is exhausting. I can’t keep going on in this way.  I can’t keep stopping and starting, and going round in circles, and beating myself up.  NO MORE.

I’m going to be vulnerable, exposed, open.  It’s the only way left.  I’ve been trying to be those things but in a controlled way.  I’ve been trying that for what feels like all my life. And now I’m exhausted.  NO MORE.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

I submit to you Lord Jesus.  I lie here face down in all this crap, angry, done in, fed up, had enough, can’t go on.  And I submit to you.  I’m so sorry that I’ve gone on my own way for so long in this stuff.  I’m so sorry that despite following you, giving my life to you, worshiping you, loving you, being freed and healed by you, that I’ve been holding onto all this crap.  I have been a slave to this stuff for too long. And I have had enough of yoking myself to it.

Today, Lord, in the intensity of my emotions, in this angry, ugly, empty place, I humbly accept the gift of freedom that you have already given me.  I am weak Lord, but you are strong.  Only you can heal me Jesus.  Please help me to be weak and vulnerable so I can be filled with the strength of your Holy Spirit.

Thank you.

 

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Reconnecting myself, Part 1: dissociation.

Dissociation: the action of disconnecting or separating or the state of being disconnected (set apart, separated, disjointed, shut down). 

The last few days have been odd: each one bringing its own challenges and joys.  Nothing particularly unusual about that perhaps, but these days have been different.  These last few days I’ve consciously chosen to try to feel the things inside that I push down and cover up to avoid feeling. It hasn’t been easy.  But it has been worth it.

But this blog isn’t about these last few days.

This blog is about last week because you need to know the back story first.

To be honest, I spent most of last week with my head in my hands like some kind of strange living kettlebell, connecting and disconnecting it from the rest of me in an attempt to conquer one of my usual protection mechanisms – dissociation.

Dissociation

Now I’m not a mental health professional, so this really is just from my personal experience, but to me, dissociation is quite clever really. It is my mind helping me to cope with situations that are overwhelming in some way; giving me the space to process feelings and thoughts.

When I was was first given the actual detailed diagnosis of my heart condition, for example, I removed my head from my shoulders so quickly that the cardiologist didn’t even notice that he was now just talking to my body!  I watched incredulously  from the corner of the ceiling as the lovely nurse put her arm around me while the cardiologist told me in his kindest voice that I had already outlived my life expectancy, but that they were hopeful they could perform open heart surgery to extend my life when I was well enough to survive it. Which at that point I wasn’t. I stared down, willing myself with all my might to say something in response.  I did.

I said thank you.

And so then it began. The process of trying to put myself back together.  Somehow I had to live with this new knowledge.  Somehow I had to get up every day and carry on as normal. But it wasn’t normal.  I wasn’t normal.  This new knowledge about my heart was a giant trigger to so many other things that had happened in my life that I had not fully dealt with, including my father’s death (of a heart attack) when I was 4,  my mother’s sudden death when I was 25 and my miscarriages.  I was scared.  Scared of feeling that grief, scared of not being able to cope with the intensity of my own sadness. I needed to reconnect myself.

So like a clown pushing an enormous string of handkerchiefs up her sleeve in preparation for a party trick, I pushed as many emotions as I could down through the hole where my head should have been. Then with all my strength I grabbed my head and plonked it on the top. I did a pretty good job.  So I thought. But it was tiring.

And it was not truly connected.

You see, whenever I get palpitations or breathless, whenever I go to the cardiologist, get a call from the nurse specialist or even an appointment letter, whenever someone asks me about my heart or even just how I am, I can feel that string of handkerchiefs, now all knotted and tangled, trying to push its way up into my head.  And I have to quickly remove my head again before it gets there, then push it all back down again so I can carry on living. Functioning. Being normal. But my heart is not normal. 

This coping mechanism is not new to me.  I’d already been doing it for most of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not devoid of emotion.  In fact, I think I’m fairly self-aware, and connected to my feelings.  I’m an advocate for counselling and therapy in general, for everyone.  We all need a little help from time to time.  I’ve used therapy to help me understand myself, and to get to know the issues that each of the handkerchiefs represent. It’s just that I’ve been a bit stuck in this dissociative habit of mine.

But it is getting more and more exhausting each time I do it. And recently a couple of my close friends have noticed me disappear in those moments when I’ve not shifted my head out of the way fast enough.

So.  It is time.

It is time to reconnect for real.

And the only way to do that is to get to the bottom of those dirty, mangled old handkerchiefs to the actual root of things, once and for all.

And I am ready.

So that is what I’ve started to do these last few days.  And that is what I will talk about in part 2 of this blog.

Love

Lx

Sugar love?

“Gimme some sugar… go on give it to me give it to me give it to me…I WANT SUGAR!”

That’s generally one of the constant soundtracks in my head.

It can be really loud and common like a teenager in Eastenders, other times an upbeat Take That, or even a whispering Barry White.  It makes no difference really, it just nags at me. Especially when I haven’t had enough sleep or I’m stressed, then it can more easily drown out my other, more helpful, thoughts.

Sugar in itself isn’t bad.

I’m not trying to be controversial here.  I’ve heard all about how it’s 8 times as addictive as cocaine, rots teeth, causes diabetes, etc.  And I agree with all that.  But it’s not sugar in itself that is causing these issues.  It is, after all, a natural product. It’s from sugarcane, sugar beets, fruits and other plants.

So then, is the problem how it’s been processed and changed into other stuff?  Yes, that’s definitely a huge part of the issue and the food industry has a lot to answer for. But that’s not what I’m getting at.

The problem with sugar in my life, my dear Watson, is me.  I am the problem.  And it is about time I faced up to it.  That soundtrack in my head is my voice.  But that’s not even the track that compels me to eat sweet stuff.  Oh no, that’s the trick you see. The really damaging soundtrack, the one that has the ability to make me shovel donuts, chocolate, cereal, biscuits and anything else sweet into my body is the soundtrack that goes like this:

“You’re worthless, useless, ugly, burdensome, thick, stupid, fat, lard, disgusting, repulsive, noone will ever fancy you, you don’t deserve to be happy, you don’t deserve to take care of yourself, there’s no point in even trying because you will fail, because you’re worthless, useless, ugly….”

 And you know what? It is lies.  Big. Fat. Ugly. LIES. 

That’s what all those therapy sessions and crying out to God has taught me.

If you’ve got a soundtrack anything like that in your head, then that is lies too.  It is emotional abuse, and it can cause all sorts of damaging behaviours and hold us back from our full potential.

So how to change this? Unfortunately, my soundtrack doesn’t come with a remote control ‘off’ button.  It has been there for a very long time, built up over the years.

Someone once told me that you can’t stop thinking something by thinking ‘I must stop thinking about (whatever the thing is)’ because by default that makes you think about it. So I guess that means what we need to do instead is replace that soundtrack with a new one.

But how?

By persistently telling ourselves wonderful positive things that’s how.  And this will take some time, but it will be worth it.  I’m going to think of different tools to use to help along the way.

Last week I washed out my sugar jar.  Now instead of filling it with refined white sugar (I used to have a spoonful in my coffee), I am going to fill it full of sweet, positive words that nurture me.  Every day I am going to write something positive about myself on a bit of card or paper and put it in the jar, until it is completely full up.  At least one thing per day. Then, at times when my negative soundtrack is loud I can indeed run for the sugar, open the jar and read through lots of positive helpful things.  The idea being that this conscious effort will drown out the negative soundtrack.  That’s my theory anyway.

img_1877

Day 1 – ‘I have soft skin’.

Day 2 – ‘I am kind to others’.

Day 3 – ‘I have strong shapely legs’

Day 4 – Nothing.  Struggling.  Feeling uncomfortable.  After years of self-abuse this feels so out of my comfort zone.  The old soundtrack is strong and Take That are getting louder, making promises to run off with me in a boat made of chocolate on a caramel sea.

But I persevere.

Day 4 – ‘I am worth it’.

I might not believe it yet, but I haven’t turned to sweet things to eat either.  And I’m going to keep on going.  I can’t expect this to change over night.  But if I want it to change it will. And giving myself some real sugar love is the way forward.

Love

L x