On Self

I’ve having challenges when it comes to learning to love myself.

I think of myself in general terms. I’m awesome. I sometimes express intelligent ideas. I can be funny. I am helpful. However, there is an underlying darkness that waits just off stage to jump on any negative action, thought or event. This darkness sends everything flailing off the stage, into the pit and the things that live there, out of normal sight, are extremely unpleasant – unlike orchestra pit musicians with whom I have worked before, as they are great people.

I know that I have a lot of good qualities, but these are glossed over when something negative happens, because I take on the blame for whatever occurs. A customer at work is upset, and I feel personally attacked. Circumstances of a friendship change, causing or caused by some hurt, and I feel I am to blame. I don’t know how to act in a social situation, and I am a freak, and this is, of course, my fault.

I have been reflecting on self care recently, and a lot of my musings are contributory. Part of me feels like I should get some rest and stay home this evening. Another part of me feels like this is just my usual pattern of hiding, and I should attend an event to which I have been invited that sounds fun. Which is more caring to myself? Do I rest at home, alone, or challenge myself with a social event that I would like to attend?

I think it will be beneficial for me to set some defined goals for what I want to achieve in the next little while, but I fear disappointing myself if I don’t reach these goals. Since my pessimism is rather precariously perched, I want to find a away to build more of a foundation to keep it from toppling on me. There are activities I enjoy, and that make me feel good, when I am currently doing them, but thinking about stopping everything to get them done (they seem like an obligation), makes them less desirable until I can actually bring myself to doing them. I need to learn how to make time for things that are good for me, and I also need to continue to realize that this is no selfish, because by working on myself, those around me will benefit from me being happier, healthier and more able to be in love with myself. Right now, taking time for myself feels as though I am taking time away from helping others, and I have always been better at supporting those around me rather than myself.

One goal for next month is actually completing NaNoWriMo. I have tried 5 times before and failed, because I give up on myself. This will be the year I get my 50,000 words down. I just need to keep telling myself it is only 50,000 words, not 50,000 brilliant words.

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On Ridicule

A thought sprung into my head the other day while I was chopping up vegetables for dinner. I hadn’t really seen it through to a complete conclusion before I blurted it out, but I chose to engaged in a conversation anyway, which is not my usual way of processing. I’m currently working on getting the thoughts from inside my head to outside without always having to write them down first. That being said, let me tell you all about it with textual communication.

“I think I have figured out a reason why I am so quiet,” I started, immediately stepping in with a defensive, “but I haven’t really thought this through yet, so my ability to communicate it verbally might not be fully formed.”

“That’s fine, just work through it.” I love how supportive my friends are.

I can’t remember the exact words I said out loud, because the swirling vortex that is my brain kind of smushes my inner and outer monologues together (although I can usually remember if I had a conversation out loud of if I just had the conversation in my own head). When you get right down to it, what I have felt, and what has probably had a lot to do with keeping me quiet, is that I fear being ridiculed.

Looking back at my life, this notion would seem so silly to the teenager I used to be. I was never one of the cool kids, and I was perfectly fine with that. I dressed in whatever random clothing I found at the thrift store, or Liquidation World, or from the costume sales of local theatre groups. I have always been an introvert, and was quiet then as well, but I never did it to hid from people. However, somewhere along the way, I guess I got bogged down, starting taking things too seriously, and now I worry about being ridiculed. What is worse is the route of that fear of ridicule is being afraid that other people will realize that I’m not perfect. The worst part of all – I don’t find myself perfect, just the way I am.

The example I brought to light while I was trying to articulate this reason for silence (of which I am sure I have many) was my veganism. I only tend to talk about it when other people are making choices in what to feed me; I will talk about it if asked, but I don’t make a point of talking about it unless someone else has opened up the subject. Earlier this year, I decided I did not agree with how animals are treated, and decided to stop eating them. Since I am allergic to milk, I decided that I would skip being vegetarian and go straight to being vegan. I don’t miss meat at all, and I don’t miss eating eats or cheese (at the time I was still indulging in dairy products occasionally by taking a pill called Lactease, as the allergy was still sort of new and I wasn’t ready to “give up” cheese). I make a controversial exception (at least to vegans) in that I do still eat honey, as we do not torture bees to obtain it, and eat it from ethical sources who treat their bees well. I’m not alone in this view point, and have felt this way since the day I decided I was done with eating animals.

Outside of consideration for their general health, I don’t care what my friends eat. If you want bacon, eat the bacon. I will not be the person to stop other people from eating pancakes. Eat whatever you want, and if I cannot have it, that is fine with me. I’ve had friends be appalled with themselves that they have forgotten that I am now vegan and offered me a slice of their meat-lovers pizza; I didn’t mind at all. I declined, but saw the gesture of politeness and care behind the offer, not a slight against my beliefs. This is my choice, and it should not stop other people from enjoying their eating choices.

The part where my perfectionism comes in an messes everything up is that I do, on occasion, eat items that contain eggs.

The thought of eating an egg – just cracking it into a pan, frying it and having it for breakfast (or breakfast for dinner, which is always a fun treat) – does not appeal to me. However, when the egg is hidden in whatever I am eating (such as the free bagels I was given at work to taste test), I don’t have as strong of a negative reaction when it comes to me eating that item. My mother also makes a fantastic dairy-free Irish Creme for me when I visit in the colder months, but that also has egg. Is this something I am willing to give up? No. I still don’t agree with how eggs are obtained, but when it comes down to it – there is a hell of a lot I cannot eat: besides being vegan, which covers my allergies to cow’s milk, goat’s milk and shrimp, I am also allergic to grapefruit, nitrates (a string of preservatives found in many “fake meat” products on the market, such as veggie ground round) and onions. One of my worst nightmares is starving when my only food options come from a convenience store – just try to find something healthy, vegan and free from my allergens in a 7/11!

There comes a point while I am trying to decide what to eat, and trying to be mindful that my choices are hindered by a huge onslaught of allergies, where I am exhausted and just want to be able to eat what is readily available to me. I will not reject a meal made for me with love when someone cooks me pasta, but when I buy pasta, I do purchase an egg-free version that is quite good. When I am a guest, I am grateful for what is shared with me, and eat what I am given unless it is meat or will make me sick.

When my life is getting especially tiring, such as when I am really busy or I get sick, my capacity to take care of myself declines, and with it goes my resolve to not eat hidden egg. So there is a truth of mine. One reason I don’t bring up my veganism is because I am not a perfect vegan. Sure, I do what I can to certain extents, but I know I am not perfect, and I hate advertising that fact. I fear being branded a hypocrite because I am not completely perfect. I also hate when people take stands and condemn others for not conforming to their own chosen life style – and I mean this in terms much more broad than just the vocal section of the vegan crowd who have occasionally been quite judgmental of omnivores. I didn’t become vegan because I thought it would be easy, but because it felt right for me. I don’t want to make my choice more difficult by opening myself up to other people ridiculing my eating habits. Absolutely no person’s eating habits, no matter what classification they subscribe to, are perfect. Nourishment intake is one of the most widely talked about subjects in our culture, with people wanting quick fixes and magical foods to banish all problems – just be good to yourself, do what you can, and realize that “failing” to be perfect does not make you a failure.

I don’t like the thought of having to justify myself. I should not have to justify my choices that do not affect other people. I don’t relish the thought of arguing with anyone over statistics on my choice to be vegan (or anything else). I just want to keep doing what I am doing because I believe that is what I want to do. I don’t want to be worn down by someone else’s need to change my view point, which is another reason I don’t speak up about this particular topic (or any controversial subject, now that I think about it); if someone is interested in a change, let them work through it. I will help them if they ask, but I will not lecture without being invited. I didn’t just choose my life on a whim. I did my research, and I made my choice. I welcome constructive talk on the subject, but shy away from any communication that makes me feel like I should feel shame because what I am doing is wrong, and I don’t want to be forced into a situation where I have to proclaim that I am right.

Sahasrara Song

My mind is stinging
From the words far-flinging
The universe is clinging
To the messages we’re bringing

Space and time, transcending
The search is never-ending
”To know all” is pretending
But our minds are extending

We can stand around, commentating
And some choose commiserating
To others it is mental masturbating
I’m here for the challenge of communicating

 Life can be demanding
When on your own, you’re standing
Learning to be commanding
But keeping hold of understanding

 A thousand petals falling
Possibilities curveballing
Future so enthralling
If only we stop stalling

 Finding order in displacing
I have to stop effacing
Fear guards me from embracing
But I’ve ceased backspacing

 Forces continue clashing
Egos take a bashing
But my path diverts from crashing
If I stop fearing a backlashing

 Stand at the door of dying
Don’t stop yourself from crying
If your truth is what you are trying
Dishonesty is all you’re denying

(Author’s note: this is what happens when I decide to end every line with the “sound” associated with the seventh chakra.)

On Brain Haze

I have a confession to make: I’ve been putting so much energy into treating myself well next month that I am not taking very good care of myself right now. I know that seems extremely counter-productive, and trust me, it is, but I only just recognized it.

Perhaps some explanation is in order. Up until recently I had no plans to move out of the tiny bachelor suite I share with my best friend in an attempt to help her financially and get myself back on my feet after returning from a 6 month European trip and having nowhere to live. Not wanting to be a burden on my brother and his new family, and not wanting to be freshly 27 and living with my parents (especially considering the last time I did that didn’t end in the happiest manner possible), I gave my best friend a couple months notice that I would like to move in, if she wanted me. She accepted, being a student and needing help with the highly inflated rent. I moved in, but it never really felt like my place; it has always been hers, and I felt badly about taking up space there. In the past few months, I’ve spent more time away than I have spent there, partly because I felt badly about being in the way. I hate being in the way. I hate being something that is inflicted on people. I also hated that we never really see each other except for when one of us is asleep (we work opposite shifts), despite my constant effort to plan some time to actually hang out. I want to be crystal clear: she hasn’t done anything directly to say that I am in her way. She hasn’t said directly hurtful things to me. The space simply isn’t mine.

That part of the explanation was much more long winded than I intended, but the just of it is this: I love her to death, but I came to realize I need my own space. I hate making decisions in my own life that negatively affect anyone I love, but I decided it was time to look for somewhere else to live – or somewhere to feel like I was living fully, instead of hiding. I found a place I love almost immediately, and I will be moving in very, very soon (at the beginning for next month). I gave as much notice as possible, but I just cannot keep paying half the bills for a space that I spend less than half of my free time.

Although I am absolutely delighted about having my own space soon, and have already started decorating it in my mind, and dreaming of all the wonderful projects I will be able to do while living there, I’m feeling incredible amounts of stress about not being a good friend. How could I abandon her with such short notice?

The destructive tendencies that I have noticed in myself since I committed to improving my own quality of life:
I keep forgetting to eat. I am not doing this on purpose, or as some misplaced vanity problem. I just forget that I need the nourishment. I don’t tend to get hungry until I arrive at the point of “you are about to commence starvation; you now feel a myriad of stupidity for not realizing this sooner, and feeling stupid is making you quite grumpy; it would be advised to eat the closest edible thing that won’t make you sick [remember you have allergies] before your body goes into auto shutdown”. Because my focus has been elsewhere, I haven’t noticed that I’m not having regular meals until the haze in my brain momentarily parts during a review of my day, or when food is offered and I have to reflect on when I last ate.
My brain feels foggy most of the time. This might be a mixture of needing sustenance, the guilt that is running around and trying to wreck the good I am attempting to build, accepting that my schedule is becoming full with the show I am currently rehearsing, and finally allowing myself to want things – but worrying about what committing to new activities will do to perpetuate this brain fog. I need to clear this haze, but taking time out to do so, especially when I have agreed to be certain places at certain times, is proving to be a scheduling challenge. I am actually attempting to clear the haze right now, prior to a rehearsal, in attempt to be attentive and effective during that time.
When I freak out, or feel negative, I hide it. I’m doing work regarding allowing myself to accept help when this happens, but this is something I have done all my life, so even though I already identified it and am working on it, it is something worth mentioning.
I rarely put my own interests first; that is why this huge change in my life is such a big deal – I previously discussed that I don’t often allow myself to want things, because I don’t want to cause upset for others. Unless I feel like my life is threatened in a vital way, I go to great length to bend or adapt to the needs of those around me. I am a queen at compromise, but I want to learn how to be okay with occasionally doing what is best for myself instead of always deferring to what is easier for those around me. I don’t need to change every aspect of how I live to do this, but I do need to learn how to identify what I should be standing up for.
I’m not sleeping extremely well. Obviously I would flip a switch if it existed and sleep soundly every evening if it were a choice, but even when I lay my head down at respectable times to accommodate the amount of sleep I want to get before I wake up for the next day, I tend to have to toss around at least a couple times before nodding off, wake frequently, and then wake earlier than needed, with no real hope of getting back to sleep before my 6:55am alarm. This is in no way helping to lift my brain haze. I’ve talked myself out of falling victim to the sadness I associate with Seasonal Affected Disorder on a few occasions recently, but I can’t seem to talk my brain out of this fog.

I have a few body aches that I am working around, but on top of nursing those injuries, I have this heaviness in my head today (which I’ve named Brain Haze) that is sinking downward into my chest. I know I have some exceptional strengths, and am very much looking forward to all the self-imposed challenges I have heaped on my plate (this show, moving, NaNoWriMo, improv classes in the future, opening myself up to being vulnerable, et cetera), but I don’t really know how to centre myself – I would like to reset to the factory default of eating well, not feeling guilt over wanting to improve my situation and having satisfying, replenishing sleep.

Writing this hasn’t helped me identify a be-all, end-all solution besides keep working toward what I want, and try to let go of feelings of needing to hold things together for those around me. It has, however, allowed me to identify that I am feeling more stress than I thought; I knew I felt badly about leaving my current living situation, but that feeling has intensified since I found out that the building does not hold me responsible for half of the rent next month. I’ve contributed to the bills without taking my share of the benefits, and have offered to give a little to help soften the blow of my leaving, but standing up and saying I don’t want to pay “my entire half” for the month – and then not hearing back regarding my text message saying exactly that [another issue with Textual Communication so soon in my life?] – has me worried. It was me stressed. It is forming a knot in my chest.

I’m ready for that part of standing up for myself where I feel proud and accomplished; that comes soon, right?

On Textual Communication

As a general rule, I am much more confident at expressing myself through textual communication rather than verbally; however, I recently had a terrifying experience with my preferred communication style that called into question using this form of communication for all dialogues in my life.

The delivery method: text message.
The message: something secret that I decided to share.
My personal experience once the message was sent: terror, as I didn’t know if what I sent would be accepted, or if I would get a response, or if the message would even be delivered properly.

I recognized, while I was agonisingly trying to not focus on whether or not a response would come, that some of these feelings would be present if I were to say what I wrote out loud instead of sending a message – definitely the portion regarding acceptance and what type of response I would receive – but if I had said it out loud, all anxiety about the technical aspect of my message would not have been there. I would know my words had been received. I would still feel exposed, but at least I wouldn’t have gone through that moment alone. I might have felt a strong urge to flee the situation once the words were out, but as it stood, that is exactly what I did while alone – I sent the message and immediately packed myself up to move to a different space so I wouldn’t sit and wait and wonder what the other person was experiencing at the other end of the message, or wonder if they even received it.

There are pros and cons in playing to my strengths when choosing which way to communicate, but I think I have learned that communicating anything that matters highly to me and requires a response is best done verbally, in person. Interestingly enough, that was my third favourite option – after text message, I considered writing a note. With a note, though, I wouldn’t have a record of the exact words I used (unless I made a copy, which I have done before, believe it or not).

That might be what one of my main problems with verbal communication is – there is no record, unless it happens to be recorded somehow. It sometimes takes me time to process words, as they are such a powerful vehicle, and when I go over them in my mind, they get jumbled and start to shift their order and slip away. What remains tends to be how the words made me feel, instead of what they meant, and sometimes I cannot identify why I felt the way I did about a situation because whatever words impacted me have faded, leaving only the emotion they created.

Tone in textual communication is highly difficult to convey, however, so the words inevitably become changed by the perspective of the reader. When I write my posts, I feel very neutral in my tone, unless I have freshly encountered an emotional explosion; but even if that is so, writing tends to calm me down into a neutrality – I might still feel the emotion that provoked the post, but I don’t hear my words in my head in a scared, angry or elated way. I just hear the words as I type them, as though I am dictating a letter and trying to be clear in my delivery. I just want to put my words down. Sharing them in this way gives me a way to look back on them, which is not a habit in which I usually involve myself. Most of what I have ever written has been recycled, burned or is trapped on three and a half inch floppies that have long since been thrown away. Many items exist in files on memory drives, never to be reopened. But these words are in the light of day. I don’t expect them to flourish, or become anything more than digits on a web page, but I am excited that I am making a choice to not hide them. I have done a lot of hiding in my life, and I no longer want that for myself.

Ajna Song

I see the whole world through my big green eyes
But this light element has got me colour blind ‘cause I can’t do this right
I understand the words but there is such a leap
Between seeing the world and seeing how it is changed within this part of me

 So I am trying to perceive what I can do
And open up this third eye
‘Cause I’m hiding some of my creative perceptions
Instead of allowing their inceptions
I’ll try to receive
But be patient with me

 It’s like I’m reading without a cause
‘Cause the things people say, I don’t take them away, so I think that I’m flawed
I can’t help wondering what it is that keeps limiting me
I know I have brains but when they freeze up on me I blame stupidity

 So I am trying to perceive what I can do
And open up this third eye
‘Cause I’m hiding some of my creative perceptions
Instead of allowing their inceptions
I’ll try to receive
But be patient with me

Dum dum dum dum dum….
Dum dum dum dum dum….

 I’ve tried to work but it’s time for the truth
I’ve shelved this project; I have to start anew

 And open up this third eye
‘Cause I’m hiding some of my creative perceptions
Instead of allowing their inceptions
I’ll try to receive
But be patient with me

Author Note: This song is to the tune of “Save Yourself” by Joey Clarkson. Her work can also be found on iTunes, YouTube, Reverbnation, and if you are lucky, in a venue near you.

On Wanting

Sometimes I stop myself
Before expressing what I want
Even to myself
It seems safer
Locked away
Unjudged
Undamaged
If I admit I want it
It becomes vulnerable to
Failure
Hurt
Pressure
Admitting I want it makes it real
No longer a fantasy I can keep to myself
Exposed
Terrified
Just waiting to move through the fear
To grow into whatever it will
If only given a chance

I’ve created such a block against the fear that comes with sticking my neck out and declaring my dreams that I cannot see them clearly when I try to reflect upon what I want. Questions about what I want, where I want to be and what I want to be doing are met with the mental equivalent of a tumble weed that distracts me from finding the answers buried somewhere in the landscape. I feel anxiety about not immediately knowing, and that only serves to hide the answers under more layers of dust kicked up by the distracting tumble weed.

My answers, when I am able to grasp them, are very broad, and their lack of specificity makes me afraid that I am just grasping at any pleasant words to put down so no one will notice that I don’t have a clue.

Quick, have a brilliantly original and well-planned thought!

I never have been especially exceptional at improv, but there came a point where I recognized that a lot of life is made up on the spot, and sometimes it pays off to accept the cue you are given and see where it goes. Don’t block yourself by stopping to worry that your first instinct won’t come across as funny or witty or attractive. Start by having a thought, then move onto the next one, and see where this trail leads you. Not all paths will lead to perfection – in fact, I doubt that even one path does – but it can be an interesting challenged to see who and what you meet while taking your journey, instead of assuming there are monsters around every possible corner.