Friday, March 30, 2018

Moving Along

I've had a stressful week. Nothing major, just a lot of little stresses that built up. For me, sometimes those little things can be worse. It takes longer for me to come back down to base-line, and if I'm not in a good or neutral space before the next trigger happens, I will be brought further from it. When I'm dealing with a lot of external stressors, it affects me internally. I become irritable, this week I've been dealing with body image issues; and I become anxious, depressed, and paranoid. I've been trying my best to come back to the promises I made to myself in my Serenity post. When I caught myself staring and obsessing over a body part, I told myself to stop. It was just going to get worse. I stopped myself from engaging or engaging further with people who were stressing me out. I rationalized as best I could when I started to feel panicky. I also have been doing my best to let things go, and remind myself other people probably are not thinking and obsessing on things the way I am. I'm looking forward to this weekend, I just got new CBD oil, and I get to give my nephew some awesome Easter presents.

Serenity


Serenity: The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

I have been thinking about serenity without even thinking about the particular word. In other words, I have been thinking about what I do that is contributing to my stress and anxiety and robbing me the bliss of serenity. Now, obviously, every second of my life is not going to be filled with serenity. Stuff happens, people get stressed out, and I have an anxiety disorder. I am talking about the actions and decisions in my life I could easily stop or change. So, what are they?

  • Going on social media first thing in the morning. Look, sometimes I need to go on the internet in the morning if I forgot something for a lesson or I want to blog or work on homework (gotta find the time somehow). What isn't good for me is grabbing my phone as soon as I wake up and scrolling Facebook or Twitter. The main culprit of my stress is social media. So, I have vowed to not go on it until I am at least on the second bus to work.
  • Giving my time to people who obviously don't care. I have tried the whole, "kill them with kindness." I brightly say hello to someone who I know isn't too fond of me. Usually, I get a mumbled hello back. I've tried having conversations with this person and it always seems stressed and forced. You know what? I'm done. I'm not going to continue to give energy to someone who feels so negative towards me. I'm not going to be mean to them, but I'm not going to go out of my way to be nice.
  • Debating things I have a solid opinion on. I'm done debating about gun violence, racism, sexism. You're not going to change my mind and I'm probably not going to change yours. If you're someone who is interested in hearing my side or learning more, that's different. But I'm honestly tired of, "well what would you change?" I've stated my stance multiple times. Right now I'm only interested in action.
  • Pretending I know something I don't. I love football, I love the Packers, but I really couldn't tell you all the different plays, calls, penalties (though I usually know them, just can't recognize them when they happen most of the time). I will do quick research so I am able to seem like I know what I am talking about. I don't care about Basketball at all, but I will look stuff up on the internet so I can shoot off random texts to my Brother-in-law. I pretend I have knowledge of stuff I don't, and not only that but I seek knowledge in stuff I really don't care about. And you know what happens? I get stressed, I get overwhelmed. I don't even need to seek it in stuff I care about. I love baseball, but it's not worth getting stressed out over learning the names of every single player on the Sox roster. When I'm discussing something in a debate, I will try to sound smarter than I am by doing half-assed research, and spout off facts I learned 2 minutes ago. No more, I focus on what I know and be proud of it.
  • Dwelling or focusing on something I know is going to stress me up or upset me. My credit card balance is going to stay the same no matter how much I look at it. I know it's going to get paid off. I don't have to keep staring at it. The more I stare at a body part the more it's going to become warped in my head and the angrier and stress I am going to get.

All of these are things that are contributing to my stress level, and they are things I can stop. Will I be perfect and quit cold turkey, never doing them again? No, it takes time and I know I will stumble, but with everything it takes practice...and some serenity.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring Cleaning

I've been thinking a lot about how my spirituality plays a role in my life, and how I need to start incorporating it more. For Ostara, I charged my stones and did a fresh sage smudging (after writing a list of things that no longer serve me, and burned them).

Today felt like so much stress and icky stuff was gone. I never considered how much bad juju was floating around, and how that bad energy was affecting me. It builds up in subtle ways. I guess yesterday I did my own version of "Spring cleaning."

I've changed my beliefs a few times. When I was younger I believed what I did because that was all I was exposed to. I didn't really have a choice, and I probably didn't know I even had one. When I reached my late teen years and realized Catholicism wasn't for me, I began to look into Wicca (thanks to a friend who identified as Wiccan). Soon I did as well, and I believed what I did because that's what books told me. I thought there was only one way to be a Wiccan. Book of Shadows, Altar, believing in the Horned God, and triple Goddess.

As I got older, I struggled with my beliefs. I found myself second-guessing myself; half believing, but convincing myself otherwise. I felt a strong spiritual connection to nature, but other parts of being Wicca just didn't speak to me. When I did an alter it felt like I was adhering to a set of standards. I was supposed to have an altar, supposed to believe in the god and goddess (and the whole notion of them mating, and the goddess giving birth to the god, etc). During the holidays I identified with the natural aspects and symbolism. I didn't, however, identify with the parts that contained a god and goddess. I didn't identify with the use of tools. But I still forced myself to do it, because that's what I was supposed to.

I thought I must be a fake Wiccan. I tried to find something that fit for years, but it always felt forced. Then, at some point, I just let it come naturally.  I did do some reading, and realized I was Pagan and that the amazing thing about being Pagan is that there are many who feel the same way I do. I also realized this is my spirituality and unlike the religion of my youth, I didn't have to be forced or expected to do things a certain way.

I am very nature-based. I worship nature, the universe. I don't believe in an anthropomorphic god. I don't use tools or have an altar. Even my gemstones are from nature.

I feel connected and content in my spirituality.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Guidance

The stick I picked this week is, "Guidance."

I thought about what guidance means to me. How I give guidance to my students, how people in my life have offered me guidance. Guidance can come in many forms. Sometimes we need guidance making a decision, sometimes we need guidance with big life changes, sometimes we need guidance learning something new, and sometimes we need guidance navigating emotions.

This week I am going to focus on taking guidance from my peers, and guiding my students in the most loving way possible.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

On My Spirituality

I identify as a Pagan Unitarian Universalist. UU being my religious/spiritual community and Paganism being my personal spirituality and beliefs. So what do I, as a Pagan, believe/not believe? Well, let's break it down.


  • I believe in nature, the earth, and the power of the universe.
  • I believe there is a "force" (best word I can use to describe it), a feminine being that is an unconscious part of the universe. She is not directly involved in what happens, but we can tap into her with the choices we make. 
  • Bad stuff that happens (that's man-made or created) is a direct result of free will.
  • I do not believe in hell or the devil.
  • I do not believe in anthropomorphic, personified god.
  • I do believe Jesus was real, but I believe he was a great preacher, human. Not the son of God.
  • I believe in science, in the big bang, and in evolution; but I also believe there is a spirit intertwined in the universe. I just don't believe it's watching over us and deciding whether or not we get into Heaven.
  • I do believe something happens when we die, I just don't know what. I used to believe in reincarnation, but now I'm not sure. I think I still do, but part of me is scared to believe in that. I'm starting to believe more and more that we somehow become part of the vast universe. This is a subject that honestly scares me a bit. I have a lot of fear about death and getting older. I still learn towards reincarnation. Earth is reborn and renewed all the time, I bet stuff in the universe dies and comes back refreshed. So, why not us? I am just scared because I don't want to be reborn into a time when earth ends. Also, thinking about not being with people I love is scary.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ten Years.

Ten years. It's been ten years since that fateful weekend in 2008. Particularly, ten year since the Ides of March. The day the brunt of it all went down. Sometimes it's hard for me to see how much progress I've made in these past ten years, but I always come back to one of my life lessons, "compare me to me," and perhaps the best "me" comparison is to the one in 2008. So, let's take a trip back.

Ten years ago....


  • I had just started a job working in a call center for a dumpster company.
  • I was living in someone else's house.
  • I was in a relationship that I forced (even though I didn't realize it at the time).
  • I did not have a proper diagnosis. More importantly, I did not have BPD diagnosis.
  • I had friends, a community, and was part of the local RHPS cast. What I didn't have were the skills to prevent everything from spiraling out of control, losing almost everything, and all because of a breakup.


Now it's ten years later. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been all uphill. As I've said, the road to progress isn't linear. My life was unstable for a long time, I endured abuses, got sucked in with the wrong types of people, had a major breakdown that matched the one from 10 years ago. But now, on this day, ten years later I can say...


  • I've had stable housing and a job for the past year and 8 months and year and 5 months.
  • I not only have a proper diagnosis but have researched and learned about it to the point I am extremely self-aware. I've learned skills, completed a DBT program; and although consistent therapy has been, well, inconsistent, I am at a place that is much different from ten years ago.
  • I've had outbursts, bad days, but this time around I react to them differently. I have the skills to process, reflect, fix and/or move on. That breakdown I mentioned? Unlike 10 years ago, I was able to recognize I needed to go and get myself help. Unfortunately, it ended in a traumatic experience (not by my fault).
  • I have a partner who supports, loves, and celebrates me. Someone who has seen me at my best and my worst; and I him. This July we are moving in together.
  • I have a career, one I am working to move up in. I am on my way to earning my second Masters
Don't get me wrong, I still struggle, but I now have the skills to react to those times in a way that isn't detrimental to my life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

NVLD vs GAD

I am learning new stuff about my NVLD vs anxiety.

  • Some of my memory issues are more than likely aligned with my anxiety (and low distress tolerance)
  • I apparently have stronger verbal abilities than I thought.
  • My biggest deficit is my visuospatial ability (common with NVLD).
  • "Visual" does not necessarily mean seeing something. The reason I have trouble remembering directions, instructions, lists is because I have to visualize and organize them. (•visual-spatial-organizational, lack of image, poor visual recall faulty spatial perceptions, and difficulties with spatial relations).
  • The reason I have trouble generalizing reading is because of our deficit with part-whole or big picture vs details.
  • My impairment of spatial organization of complex visual info indicative of NVLD, while my poor verbal memory is more my anxiety.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On Love and Dates.

Something that was a struggle for my boyfriend and I was choosing an anniversary date. Our relationship was on and off for the first year and 7 months, and so was our status. We were boyfriend/girlfriend for about ten months, then when we kept getting back together we never made it official, but we were more than platonic friends or intimate friends.

We've been back together consistently since April of 2016. I struggle with being rigid, and so I had a hard time considering our anniversary to begin in the year. People wouldn't know we've actually dated longer, and that bothered me. But then it didn't seem right to start it in 2014, especially since it was on and off and I dated other people during that time (he didn't). That didn't really give an honest picture either. Both of us didn't want to erase our romantic past, and I struggled with being literal and rigid.

In the end, we decided to make it April 22, 2016. That was the day we got back together. While we acknowledge we dated on and off for a year and 7 months, we also realized that time carried a lot of pain and we needed to leave that behind us. I don't mind explaining that when people ask how long we've been together, "2 years, but we dated on and off for about a year and a half in the past." I also realized my mom went through the same thing. Her and her husband (then boyfriend) dated for about 5 years, broke up for several, then got back together before getting married.

Focus

I picked it a couple of days late, but this week's stick is "Focus."

I think there are different types of focus, some I'm good at and some not so much. One of the traits of NVLD is inattentiveness, so it's really easy for me to lose my focus when I am working on something. I will often jump from task to task or get distracted by youtube.

However, I am really focused on my goals, what I want, and how I am going to achieve it. I am good at focusing on organizing my plans and breaking down my goals.

This week I am going to try and focus on not jumping too far ahead, and getting overwhelmed by abstract stuff.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Like Abstract Art?

Having NVLD means I am bad with abstract thought and reasoning. I like things to be concrete (the S in my ISFJ). Sometimes I get into these thought spirals where I stress about future plans. I start thinking about all the unanswered questions, how things will work out. I'm not talking in some philosophical way. I mean, literally. When will I move? Will I make enough money to own a car and pay my credit card? How are the logistics of moving gonna work?

I start freaking out even though it's not for another 4 months. I have a compulsive need to know everything now, to not have things so abstract. My brain starts spinning, asking more questions, thinking of more scenarios.

So I took some CBD oil, did yoga, and deleted posts that weren't serving me (I'm trying to get better at venting on my blog).

I'm calmer now, but it's still a lot. Of course, I start getting anxious about being stressed. How it affects me. Will I die sooner? Worse, will it affect how I look? How my body looks?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Things That Make Me Go..AAAAHHH

De-stress post. This is to get all my little pet peeves and annoyances out. I realize a lot of these are because of my NVLD and anxiety and thus cause me a need for control and to be rigid.


  • People who stop in the middle of a busy walkway/path/store/whatever.
  • When I am trying to understand something about myself on an intellectual level and people respond, "awww, all that matters is you're a good person. Don't worry about the label!" Or so BS. Like, fuck you, I want to understand.
  • People who wait until the last minute to settle the logistics/details of a plan.
  • When people assume my tone/intent online.
  • When people say they will get back to me at a certain time and don't. 
  • When I have a deadline, and I make it clear and people blow it off.

I've actually blanked, so I may come back to this.

Practice Makes Perfect

I have been trying to work on a few things that I usually have a hard time with because of my anxiety.


  • Confrontation. Not, hostile, but if someone upsets me or I'm worried about something they said (or think they are mad); I am trying to get better at asking them or talking to them directly about it.
  • Asking questions that I fear the person's reaction, or being let down by the response.
  • Being open, honest, and direct about my feelings, needs, and wants.

I've practiced it a few times this week, and so far so good.

Monday, March 5, 2018

This Strong Willed Woman Had an Angel's Heart

My boyfriend and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary in April. However, we've been dating for about 4 years. The reason we are celebrating a 2 year anniversary is that in the beginning, from 2014-2016, we were very on and off (I also dating other people during that time). Our relationship was hard in the beginning because he was in a very different place. Because of this, he ghosted me 3-4 times during that 2 or so year period. It was painful and caused me a lot of distrust. My boyfriend has a lot of shame, a lot of anxiety. Because of this he isolates, is scared of everything, and he'd rather lie and tell me he did something than tell me he didn't and risk upsetting me.

A lot of our relationship, in the beginning, was uncertainty. We were only officially boyfriend and girlfriend for about 10 months, and really it was because I kept begging. Yes, I admit I pushed him into it. Despite the isolation and ghosting, every time we got back together, it was romantic. We've never been platonic friends. Hell, we've never been friends who fuck. I knew that we were meant to be together, but he didn't and because of that I had to deal with a lot of painful waiting.

His opinion on us getting married someday remained consistent throughout or relationship. He just didn't see himself marrying me. When he first broke up with me he talked about this in his letter, telling me he couldn't see himself marrying a woman with my past. It was painful to read. Whenever we talked about the future of our relationship, he'd get upset. He couldn't see himself marrying me. I was putting myself in a relationship that had no future. Then, I chipped away at his layers (he tells me I've discovered layers about him even he didn't know were there), and learned that it wasn't so much me he couldn't see himself marrying, but he couldn't see himself marrying anyone. Not because he didn't want to, but because he felt he'd never be ready or okay enough. He had also been looking for this perfect woman. A Disney Princess if you will.

One thing my boyfriend is good at is telling you what you want to hear. Sometimes he believes what he says. Because of this we've had many heartbreaking moments. This past summer he waited until he was literally driving to pick me up to tell me he didn't want to go to New York. Mind you, this was maybe an hour after he said me a text saying he was on his way and looking forward to our trip. He called me having a complete breakdown. He doesn't do this because he's manipulative or a bad person. It's part of his "stuff." He'd also rather cut his arm off than hurt me.

When we got back together in April 2016, he still held onto the opinion that he couldn't see himself marrying me. Then the tides began to shift. He admitted he was in love with me. Something he had no for a while but was scared to admit to himself. He was the one who made the decision to be boyfriend/girlfriend again. Of course, it wasn't all picture perfection from that moment on. 

We've had many conversations about our relationship, and what I need from him. I've discussed how important it is that he always be honest with me. I've told him that I'd rather be upset about him missing an appointment than learn he's been lying for weeks. On the whole, he's improved a lot. He wants to, he's told me he wants to prove himself to me. It's still hard at times for me. He's a natural liar, and it's hard to tell when it's happening. Now, I want people to know when I say lying I don't mean about big stuff. He didn't cheat on me and lie about it. Nothing like that. I mean little things; not going to therapy, not paying a bill, lying about being excited about plans. Stuff that if he told the truth might upset me or make me disappointed in him. Obviously, the latter isn't true. What I'm disappointed in is when he feels he can't be honest with me. He has been honest, but part of me still has trouble believing certain things he says.

We've been talking about moving in together in July. As it gets closer, we've been having more serious conversations. Where are we going? What's our budget? How much do we need to save? We've talked about marriage. he tells me he fantasizes about marrying me, having a future with me. His mother says that if he's thinking about living with a girl it means he's thinking about marrying her. All of this makes me anxious. He used to say he couldn't see himself marrying me, now he can? I have a hard time seeing the gray. Recognizing that people change and change their minds. Even if I got past that, there's still the fact that he's really good at telling people what they want to hear. He's canceled on me last minute several times. The first time he broke up with me, he talked to me like everything was fine and even made plans for the following weekend. So then how do I know that he isn't going to do the same? Tell me in June he's not ready? On top of that, someone close to him said stuff to me that made me even worry more. It's them being overly worried, and I made rational conclusions about what she said, but of course, that anxiety seed was planted.

How do I trust him, then? Well, for one he has come a long way and changed a lot since we first met. His issues now aren't so much lying, but avoiding things. Two, not to brag, I've pushed him to do things no one else has. I helped him find his job, I helped him get back into therapy. Third, he hasn't lied to me about bigger stuff since New York. He's better about telling me up front if he doesn't want to do something. I am also better at helping him feel like he isn't obligated or that I'm not going to throw a hissy fit. Fourth, we've had a lot of conversations. I told him one of the ways he can build up trust his by communicating with me. Yesterday we discussed our plan for the upcoming months, I talked about how he needs to be sure because if he changes his mind last minute he's screwing me over. We talked about how it's okay for him to have doubts and feel scared. He told me he is scared because he wants everything to work out, and for us to be together.

One of the perks of loving someone is you get to know the deepest parts of them. While he is good at lying, I've gotten good at both knowing when he is and pulling the truth out of him. Still, I struggle. I struggle to believe he really wants to marry me someday, that we are actually going to move in together. I recognize, though, that a lot of this is my own anxiety. My nack for worst case scenario and catastrophizing. I realize I'm also generalizing, but at the same time, I feel it makes sense that I am. On top of all that, people around him have doubts; and even though they haven't talked about it as deeply as we have, the paranoia is still there.

I believe him. I know he's in love with me, and I believe I'm the one he wants to be with. The change is both big and subtle. I know he's not just telling me these things. It's hard to explain why. But the way he talks about me, dotes on me, adores me. The stuff I've done for him.Things have shifted. I just have to get better at trusting.

Wisdom

The stick I picked for this week is, "Wisdom." Whenever I think of wisdom I think of an old man, white beard, calm and serene. People in his family, town, and community come to him for sage advice. When I was younger, I probably thought wisdom or being wise meant being smart.

Now I see wisdom as a deeper type of intelligence. An intelligence you can't learn from a book or from other people. Sure, you can be influenced by other wise people, but the wisdom lies in you. You're the one who has to tap into it. To me wisdom is finding the deeper meaning in life's decisions. Having the wisdom to walk away from a toxic relationship. It's one thing to say, "this person is bad for me," and another to reflect on why, how it affects you, or how it plays a role in the broader aspect of your life.

I believe I have wisdom, but I also believe I don't always use it. The dictionary defines wisdom as, "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise." Experience is such a vague term. People have experience in various things. Also, how much experience? I have experience in teaching, but I don't know if I have wisdom. Maybe I do.

My goal for this week is to make wise choices, really think about my decisions and why I'm making them. If I make an unexpected choice, I will reflect on why.