Tuesday, April 8, 2014

what do you Really want?

Ordaining Women has been all over my Facebook, the news, blogs, etc. My family and friends all have opinions, and very few of them agree completely on the issue.

Last week, I wrote about how I left the church because it was an abusive relationship for me. I could stay and try to change the church to be better for me, but it's not my responsibility... and the trouble with trying to change someone (or something) that I have no control over - it just doesn't go well. They don't want to be changed, they feel resentful that I am trying to change them, and who am I to decide who they should be anyway?

On a completely different note, I have had a temporary tattoo on my right arm for a year. It wears off and I replace it. Not many people have seen it, because even though it reminds me of a goal I am working on, (Still. After a year.) I am embarrassed that I am working on it.

You might think I am embarrassed, because this is a goal I have been working on for a year, and I haven't made much progress, but you'd be wrong. This is how much of a struggle this is for me. I am embarrassed to be asking myself that question. A "good" person doesn't worry about what they want. A "good" person only thinks about what everyone else wants and needs, so I don't want anyone to know that I am constantly reminding myself to think about my own wants.

Six months ago, I watched the videos of the women asking for what they wanted - to be let into a meeting. A few days ago, I watched as they gathered and asked again. There weren't as many cameras there this time, but a few still caught the conversations. They asked for what they wanted. They still didn't get in, but they asked.

I've believed that even wanting something... anything... was bad. Asking is annoying and wrong and selfish. A good person doesn't do that. A good person doesn't HAVE wants, let alone ASKS... But these women belong to a church that is entirely based on asking questions. Over and over and over the church has changed because someone asked a question. Why shouldn't they be asking?

And whether they ever get what they want doesn't feel like the point today. Today, I think it must be an incredibly powerful feeling for them to ask; to hear the words spoken in their own voices. To feel supported by other women and men who care. To feel connected, even in a small way, to the woman that turned them down and asked them to listen online.

Watching them has motivated me. If I do nothing else, at least I am writing here and showing off my tattoo. I'm telling you all how hard it has been, and continues to be. I'm sharing with anyone who reads this that I am reminding myself everyday to think about my wants. Maybe one day I'll get around to asking for more too.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Finally driving a Subaru or "How is that like your life?"

I bought a new car.
It's pretty.

The roof doesn't leak. It isn't held together by duct tape. The windows stay up when I want them up, and go down when I want them down. It has a radio, and I can listen to it. There's even a CD player that doesn't have a CD stuck in it permanently. It has a cigarette lighter that I could plug something into if I wanted. It goes uphill with very little effort, and gets up to 60 MPH faster than 60 seconds. It also has cool features like all wheel drive, it connects to my phone through blue tooth, it has paint on the outside, and it fits more than just me comfortably.

I've wanted an SUV type car since I was 16 - something I could take to go on adventures in the mountains, but would also work around town. I have been looking at Subaru's and specifically Foresters for a year and a half, but my little duct-tape-Nissan kept passing safety inspection, so I kept driving it. I paid cash for that car fifteen years ago. I admit I didn't take very good care of it. I rarely washed it. I changed the oil every 6000 miles (maybe). It was held together by duct tape. I put more than 180,000 miles on that car. I had several friends pushing me to get something nicer, newer, safer, etc., but I felt like as long as it drove, I didn't NEED anything else.

About six months ago, I realized I WANTED something else. I checked out Subaru's everywhere I went. I read the specs on gas mileage and other functions of the car. I researched how often they broke down, what broke down, and how expensive they were to fix. I knew what colors they came in, and what year the body style changed.

In December, there were several good snow storms that made it impossible for me to get my Nissan out of the driveway. With the slippery roads, I missed a few orchestra rehearsals because I didn't feel like driving down the mountain.

My uncle has a dealer's license and goes to auctions to buy cars. I told him what I might be looking for a year ago, but in January I told him I was serious. Only two Foresters came to the auction in the next two months, and they both went above what he thought they were worth.

BJ's sister bought a Forester. I drove it from Montana to Utah for her when they moved back here, and I loved it.
My sister-in-law bought a Forester, and that just made me want one more.

On Pi(e) Day (March 14), I went with BJ to look at a new truck for him. We were supposed to go to my brother's house for pie that evening, and we had an hour to kill. So... BJ suggested we go "just to see what was available" at the Subaru dealership.

They had three used Foresters. A 2011, a 2012, and a 2014.
The 2011 and the 2012 were really nice, but out of my price range... but the one with only 2000 miles on it... was really close to what I wanted to spend. I fell in love with it.

I walked away. We got in BJ's truck and drove away.
As we were leaving the parking lot, I said, "I really like it. I want it."
"Then why are we leaving?"
"Because... I don't NEED a new car. I don't need one that is that nice. I have a car and it works. What if people think I'm greedy and entitled and selfish? Or what if they think I'm stupid for even trying to qualify for a loan on a car that nice? Or... I guess you could say I'm scared out of my mind, but I want it."

The old (in front) and the new (in the back) and BJ (in between).
And so... he turned around... and I bought a car.
I entirely missed Pi(e) Night.

And then I had two days of mental break down. TWO DAYS where I felt so guilty for spending money on a car that I didn't need. TWO DAYS where I almost couldn't function because I didn't deserve it and it wasn't okay. TWO DAYS where I kept considering taking it back, because I was comfortable in my old Nissan that was held together by duct tape.

Then a funny thing happened, I was driving somewhere.... Down the canyon that I live in. There's a hill. It's not super steep, but it is long enough that my old car really struggled to get up it. By the end, I was always at least ten miles under the speed limit, and that was if I hit it speeding. This time, it had no problem, my new car just breezed right up the hill.

I started to cry. Only this time, it wasn't out of guilt or shame for buying the car, I felt happy. I never knew it could be that easy, so I lived with less for a long time. I had no idea how good it could be.

That's when I heard the voice of a past therapist whispering inside my head, "And how is THAT like your life?"

I put up with a lot, because I never knew anything better was even possible.
And now, I am enjoying having a really nice car that is perfect for me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Going fishing with the guys

I was invited to go on a four day fishing trip. I will be the only girl there. We will be camping and sleeping in a tent, fishing during the day, and I am really excited.

And nervous. A long time ago, I was raped in my sleep. Many times.
My nights are a million times better than they once were, but I still have nightmares occasionally and night terrors fairly often, and a tent with four other men could be incredibly problematic for me.

I've been invited before, but didn't go, because I was afraid of trying to sleep.
This time, I decided to do it differently.

I talked about what my nights are like. I asked for some accommodations that will make my trip more fun. We talked about sleeping arrangements. We talked about how they can help if I do have nightmares or night terrors. (BJ will be there, so I told them to just trust him.) I also promised to take care of myself - which means if I don't sleep at nights, rest during the day.

I feel guilty - that somehow I am a burden on my friends.
My friends have insisted that they want me there, and what seems like a huge deal to me is really no big deal to them.

The trip is six weeks away, but I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ordaining Women and Abusive Relationships

I want to tell you all about my new car, but I'm going to hold off... Ordaining Women has been all over the news this past week. Between their plan to go to the Priesthood session of General Conference again, and the church's news release, I can't really get away from it.

I've left the church.

I came to the conclusion that I was in an abusive relationship with the organization.
They told me who to be, how to act, what to think, what to do, where and how I could spend my money, my time, my talents. They told me I was worthless without them, and they also told me I could never leave. I was miserable with their control. I was miserable with the way they spoke of and treated women. Every practice in the church is sexist, even though much of it falls under benevolent sexism, it is still a very sexist organization.

I have friends who felt the way same way I did, and rather than leaving, decided to stay. They were going to do their best to change the organization from the inside. My therapist told me that I shouldn't leave, but I should stay and work to change the church. He believed it needed changing, and no one would listen to me if I was an "angry ex-Mormon".

I thought about staying. I thought about enduring the pain they caused, so that I could maybe make them into something else. But... I realized it is not the victim's job to change her abuser. Most abusers will resent you trying to change them. Just because I don't like the way I am being treated, doesn't give me the right to try and change someone else. And in the end, I have zero control over changing someone else anyway. One of the biggest things I had to learn, was that I was not responsible for someone else abusing me. I can't change them - the only thing I can do is get myself out of harm's way. Often, that means leaving the relationship.

So I left the church. I walked away from the abusive relationship that we had. I decided the church could continue to be just how it was. I would continue to be just who I am. And we just wouldn't be in any sort of relationship with each other.

It was terrifying to leave. I was afraid of losing my family and friends. Everyone I knew and loved believed that the church was true. As far as I knew, they also believed it was better that I died a member than if I lived as an ex-member. (Luckily, I was very wrong.) My whole life was wrapped up in the belief system I had been taught since birth. How do you walk away if you've been told you're evil/deceived/of the devil for even thinking about it? I'm pretty lucky that things turned out as well as they did, but I don't think most women (or men) are as lucky as I am.

They might be unhappy with the current policies, practices, and even doctrine, but they don't have a lot of options.

They can leave and chance losing everything: their family, their community, their friends, their spiritual home, their belief system, their faith, their whole life.

They can stay, and try to force themselves to be what the church tells them to be.

Or, they can stay and try to change things from within. They can ask questions. They can push to have their stories be told. They can write books and blogs and do newspaper interviews and hope that it will do some good - if not for them in their lifetime, maybe for their daughters or even grand-daughters.

Mostly, I think it's a futile effort. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. But their fight makes my heart ache and my insides churn.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A waterpark in January! (This is my kind of work.)

We took a business trip to Phoenix last week. Phoenix, AZ - and 70 degree weather. So, we decided to take a few extra days traveling, and we had a lot of fun.

We went hiking and fishing on the way down. Then we got to the hotel, set up our booth, played in the water park, went shopping, read (sitting by the pool in the sunshine). That evening we had a "social" for everyone at the trade show.

There was excellent food, a hot air balloon ride, a beer-toting-donkey, "old west" pictures, s'mores, a huge telescope (we looked at Jupiter and got a very short astronomy lesson), Native American dancers and drummers, donuts, and sitting around the campfire.

The trade show went great for us. I couldn't have written orders any faster - more than thirty new accounts in five hours. BJ's son came to help just as everything was slowing down, then we went out to dinner with BJ's son, daughter-in-law, and adorable 1 year old granddaughter. (They moved to AZ just recently.)

We drove on the Carefree Hwy, through NOTHING, visited the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade, visited BJ's sister, and finally had lunch with my brother before getting all the way home.

I could get used to playing in water parks and taking hot air balloon rides as part of my work.
(And now a photodump.)

It turns out, my camera has a function that I can do remote viewing with my iPhone. I took this picture - the camera was just sitting on a rock, I posed it, focused it, and TA DA!

Nat was an awesome guide. I didn't notice this in the moment, but BJ pointed out that Nat spent more time guiding me than she did him. She put me on all the fish first, and him second. I have been out with guides many times with BJ... usually, it's just the opposite. They all put BJ on the fish first and make sure he catches the most fish, and I am an after thought. Although I feel like I should feel bad, I loved the time she took to teach me and help me.

FLOWERS! In January. I needed that.

Sun. Books. I needed that too.

 Hot air balloon ride. It was cool looking over the Scotsdale Valley.


A quick selfie of us all before we got back on the road. (My brother just moved to Southern Utah to go to school. SUPER excited for the experience he is getting there, and I miss him. A lot.)

Even the bathrooms are beautiful in a place like this.

Us. On the river. With our boat. And huge red cliffs behind us. (This is one of my favorite places. I love it here.)

These are the only fish pictures we took. My last fish of the day.
BJ's last fish of the day.

Macro lens = extra awesome fish picture.

A waterpark in January. (Just enjoying the lazy river.)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Time for horses to teach me something new

I've been reading the book Nature in Horsemanship by Mark Rashid. (Thanks Mellen and Elliot! Merry Christmas to me!!) He has an entire chapter about the importance of protecting yourself. He talked about a woman who let her horse run her over, because she didn't want to make him mad at her.

I've never been run over by my horse... but... I have been called "fearless" when I didn't move out of his way while he was running at me. He stopped in front of me, and I wasn't hurt. But I was lucky.

I have made grand improvement from my first day on the horse. I was willing to sit on his back, but I didn't dare touch the reins, because I was afraid of hurting him. I didn't want to be bossy or controlling or tell him what to do. I now have no problem touching the reins or asking him to do some things (like not run me into a tree, or to climb a mountain with me on his back, etc.)

Sunny has taught me a lot. That horse has been the best therapist to me, and he has played a huge part in my recovery**. Besides all that he has taught me, he has taken me all over the mountains. There are very few trails that are within driving distance that we haven't been on and all over. We have done a lot together. And lately, I can tell we are stagnating. Reading the book, I can see where we (and by we, I mean me) are stuck. I'm still afraid of hurting him... so I haven't worked with him more.

Eventually, I want to adopt a Mustang. I want to gentle wild horses. I love watching people with their Mustangs, because I know the relationship they have to build with their horses. I know how hard it is to convince a horse to do things like crossing streams or climbing mountains or standing still. I want to do that, but I'm afraid.

I also recently wrote about how my fear of hurting BJ drives me. I definitely never want to hurt him AND I don't want to be motivated by fear.

Sunny taught me that it was okay to trust another being. And now, it's time for me to learn that it is okay to ask for... and to expect... and to want... and to need... from another being. I think Sunny (and BJ) will be great partners for these lessons, but I don't think they can teach me the way I want.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by equestrian centers. I live in a teeny tiny town in Utah, but there are at least four HUGE private arenas with trainers in every area of horsemanship you could want. There is also a public arena and trainers that will meet you there.

This morning, I called one of the local trainers. I've met him before, and I like his style. I can't afford him, but I can afford to be a working student at his place. I told them that I hoped to work with Mustangs one day, but I need experience. I also told them that I am terrified of hurting the horses, or doing something that would make them into bad horses somehow... and that is getting in the way of the relationship I want with my horse. They said they had classes that could help me...

I'm afraid. Even writing about this, my chest feels tight, my throat feels tight, and I might just want to climb under the desk and hide... and I'm excited.

**I was asked today if I had recovered from PTSD. I don't think you can ever recover completely, because the trauma and the abuse are a part of me. I can't go back to when it had never happened. I can't get back the innocence. I can't go back to before I believed all of the shitty stuff about myself because of the things abusers said and did. I think it will always be a part of me. AND I can also keep moving forward, learning new things, and dealing with the old stuff in new ways.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Merry Christmas (a photo dump)

I had a great Christmas season. Here is the proof:

My little brother was in A Christmas Carol. I stole his hat. And we got photobombed.

BJ's sister took this one. We were watching a movie...
Just getting ready to cut down our Christmas tree...
Look what we dragged out!

Probably should have known at this point it was too tall.

But, we didn't realize it until we got it in the house, and BJ had to cut 4 ft. off the bottom.

We ran out of lights. And the store ran out of lights. It stayed like this for a few days.

Eventually we got the rest of the lights on... and ornaments... and some presents.
The tree with even more presents...

There was supposed to be a present in this box, but I let the cat stay there...

Best tradition ever! Christmas shopping with my dad and my sister. My sister has been looking for a pair of cute black boots for four years. She finally found them.

We watched BJ's daughter's dog while she was away for Christmas. The dog and the cat got along fine until the last day. The cat got the dog's eyelid with her claw. I was just glad she didn't get her eye poked out.

The dog and the horse were friends as long as the dog stayed away from his grain. (Dogs don't speak horse language... or cat language... She did not understand when the other animals told her to 'Stay Away!')

We took the dog to see my sister's dogs. They got along great. They played hard for four hours...

A selfie while at my parents' house.

Sometimes Christmas parties wear him out... :)

All the dogs checking out their Christmas presents.

Guess I did good... :)

She could hardly wait for her present.

And she loved it.

We went sledding with some of the kids.

He stopped. His sled didn't.

My favorite quote that day was after she went down the hill the first time, "I clearly almost died!"
My bro-in-law totally looked at the camera and smiled, but I was too slow...
Last year, they buried me. This year, it was Justin's turn.

Captain America came for Christmas

More present opening.

Guess who got a Macro lens for Christmas? ME!

"What is she chewing on? Oh... a toothbrush... excellent."

Guess who I got to meet in real life?? I've met a lot of friends online, but it was even better to get to see his face and give him a hug.

And now... holidays are over. I not only survived them - I actually enjoyed them. Maybe I can remember that fact as next November approaches.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The real reason I just told the story I told...

In my last post, I talked about BJ's ex... But, I want to make it clear... I judged her. My judgment may or may not be accurate. The accuracy of my judgments doesn't really matter. What matters is the way my judgment has motivated me in the past, and still motivates me.

In other words, this isn't about her, it's about me... and the way I think... and how that affects my daily life. And I didn't realize all of this while I was writing that post... but I am starting to see things more clearly...

I don't want to hurt him. I don't want to be selfish or self-centered. I don't want him to ever feel about me the way he felt about her. I don't want him to ever feel like his wants, needs, feelings, or thoughts don't matter. I don't want him to ever feel like he belongs to another person and especially not to me. I don't want him to feel obligated. I don't want him to feel controlled. I don't want him to feel like a slave.

That fear... of hurting him... or of being selfish... is a strong motivator. And it sometimes still gets in my way. I don't allow myself to have the healthy and happy relationships I want, because I am afraid that if I want, that want will somehow become abusive and controlling.

I don't know what else to say about it - because I am still working through the emotions and the false beliefs that have driven me for a long time. So... stay tuned? I will continue to work through my stuff and I plan to write about it as I do...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The story of us from the perspective of me

Yesterday, BJ's sister and sister-in-law both asked to hear "our story". They only knew the gossip, and what they had observed, but they wanted to hear the story of how we met and got together from my perspective.

So here it is, just a very short version of "our story" from my perspective.

I have felt loved by him from the first time we met. It wasn't a love specific to me, but I felt genuinely loved and cared for. There was something about him that I just knew I could trust him.

I have loved him since the first time he apologized to me, but maybe I need to back up just a bit.
Many years ago, he started calling me into his office regularly. He sensed things weren't quite right, and he wanted to help. He kept asking me questions, and wouldn't accept my lies. (I knew they were lies, but it took me a long time to finally talk about the things that were hurting.) Once I started being more honest, my life fell apart. Eating disorder took over. I told him about that, and he offered to be someone I could be accountable to.

Eating disorders are scary things, and he had no experience with them. He read and researched and tried to learn, but he ignorantly said things that made it worse for me. For everyone else I knew, I didn't dare tell them when their words or actions caused me pain, but I told him. I don't know why, or even how, but I told him he didn't understand and he was just making things worse.

He apologized. He told me I was right, he didn't understand, but he wanted to. He said he was sorry for making things worse, and asked what he could do different. I told him. I told him how I felt, and he listened, and we talked. We talked about what he was feeling. He was afraid. He was hurting, because he felt sad and helpless.

I walked away from the experience thinking, "This is how it is supposed to go. I've never experienced it like this, but this is how it is supposed to be."

I couldn't help but love him, and be VERY grateful for him. We could make mistakes around each other without forever damaging our growing friendship.

We continued to be friends. He was there for me. I listened to him. We shared things with each other that we had never dared share with anyone else... When we shared with each other, it didn't hurt like it had in the past. We could listen and validate and understand each other in a way I had never experienced before. His friendship filled a loneliness I didn't even know I had. (And although this isn't his story, it's mine, he has said the same thing about me.)

We were both married. Both of our marriages weren't good. We both had the goal to make them better. It didn't work out that way. The more I healed, the more I knew I couldn't stay married. BJ eventually got to the point where he couldn't take the way she treated him, and he left.

Did I know then that BJ and I would end up together?
No. I didn't plan on it. I just thought we could be there to support each other in the interim.

So, when did I start to know I wanted something different?
Two years after he had left his ex, she asked to meet with me. I didn't want to. She told me she needed to talk to me in order for her to find peace. My friends and support system said she was being manipulative with that statement. I felt like I had no choice... I hoped that maybe if I met with her, and she found some peace, she would treat BJ better. I had to do everything I could to try to make things better for him. It wasn't my responsibility, but I hated watching him be hurt by her over and over and over again. I would have done anything to ease his suffering. Meeting with her for a few hours seemed like a small thing to do.

She brought her journal, and a printout of my entire blog: highlighted and with notes taken on the sides. She wanted to tell me all of the things that I had said that she didn't agree with. I listened for a long time. She blamed me for her marriage ending. (Actually, she continues to blame me. The story now is very different from the one back then, but it doesn't matter. I am still the villain in her story.)

At the end of the four hour meeting, she told me that all she wanted was another chance. She asked me what I would do if BJ decided he wanted to start dating her again. I answered honestly, "I would support him. I love him, and I want him to be happy. I trust him to know what he needs to bring him happiness."

She thanked me. I was dying to ask her if she could say the same. If she loved him enough to want him to be happy, even if it meant he would never ask her on another date. I didn't do it. I felt like I knew the answer.

I felt angry at her. How could she be so selfish and self-centered? How could she think that he would ever want to go on a date with her when she had been such an ass to him? How could she want him to spend time with her when he had repeatedly told her how she hurt him? How could she keep insisting that he was wrong - her actions and her words didn't hurt him? Why would anyone want to spend seven seconds with someone that treats them like that, let alone an entire evening? Why didn't that woman care about anyone but herself?

A few days or weeks after that encounter, my mom asked me a question... or said something... I don't remember what it was... and I fell apart. (I do remember, I was driving... and I pulled over and sat in the car and sobbed next to the lake. I remember feeling relieved that it was winter, so there wasn't a million people around.)

Did I mean what I had told his ex? Did I love BJ and want him to be happy, even if it wasn't with me? Would I support him in whatever decision he made? If he wanted to start dating his ex again, what would I really do?

I would support him. I DO love him and I want him to be happy. I DO trust him to follow his path. AND I also wanted him to want to be with me. That realization caused a complete meltdown.

It didn't matter that he DID want to be with me. We had a great friendship. We loved fishing and riding and talking and just watching TV together. I knew that he loved being with me. He loved the conversations we had. We lived in the same house. We worked together. We were pretty much together all the time, but I still was so afraid...

I wasn't afraid that he wanted something different than what I wanted, I was afraid that I wanted something. I was worried that my wanting something suddenly made me selfish. And in my mind selfish equaled horrible human being.

I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle knowing how much I wanted to be with him. It was obvious to my mom, my friends, and BJ, but not to me. I had judged his ex as selfish and self-centered. Was I any different? If I wanted to be with him - how was that different than her wanting the same thing? I had watched her hurt him over and over and over... I didn't want to do that. I didn't know if it was possible to have wants of my own without treating him the way she treated him. It terrified me to think that I could use or abuse him the way I had seen her. I wanted to run away, but then I was aware enough to know that running away from him would also hurt him.

It took me many months to get comfortable with the idea that I wanted to be with him. In those months, we continued spending a lot of time together. Fishing. Riding. Hiking. Snowshoeing. Snowmobiling (I didn't like that as much. Too noisy. And smelly.) Camping. Traveling. Reading. Talking. Eating. Planning the future.

We went to Montana to visit his sister and her husband. It was a great trip, and once again I realized I wanted something. I liked being around BJ and family. Up until this point, BJ had met my parents and family. I had met his, but we didn't do anything together. My parents had been telling me for years that BJ was always welcome in their home, but I hadn't passed that message on to him. I made excuses to my family as to why he couldn't (or didn't want) to come. I didn't want it to be like that after I spent those days with him and sister.

While we were in Montana, my brothers called and asked if I wanted to go to Alaska with them. Of course I did. I wanted BJ to come, and I wanted us all to be together. I decided it would probably be good if they got to know him first. So, I started inviting him to dinner at my parents' house.

Gradually, things shifted, and I got more comfortable with the idea.

We went to Alaska, and it was awesome. When we came back, things had shifted again... We spent time together with each of our families. We slept in the same bed. We even use the label "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" occasionally. (Although, I still like the label of friend best.)

We spent the holidays with each other, and with our families. His kids came with their spouses and kids, and we had dinner and celebrated together. We went to my parents and spent time with my siblings, their spouses, and their dogs.

In preparation for Christmas plans, my mom asked me if BJ was a part of the family, and I answered the only way I could answer, "Yes. BJ is family now."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I remember, and I never want to be there again

Recently,  I was talking to a friend about her business. I thought her products were all "weight loss" products. She corrected me, and wanted to tell me the story of a girl that she'd helped gain weight.

This girl had been very sick. She couldn't keep any food down whatsoever. It wasn't a choice she made - there was something wrong with her body. She'd eat, and then seconds later it would all come back up. If she kept the amounts small enough, she MIGHT be able to digest the food. Doctors didn't know why. (They told her to just stop throwing up.)

K pulled out the pictures of this girl.
She looked so thin, so sick, near death. After taking K's supplements, this girl put on weight. She's been able to keep food down ever since.

The part of the story I want to share is what I felt as I looked at her pictures.
There was once a day when my body looked like that. I know what it feels like to be nearly starving to death. Many people with an eating disorder (myself included) WANT to look that frighteningly, sickeningly thin. It doesn't make a lot of sense, even to me.

BJ, knowing my history, asked me if I was okay.

So, I shared with them both.
There was a time that I looked like that. The reason I looked like that was different, but I remember how it felt for me. I remember feeling so hopeless that I just wanted to die. I remember knowing that if I didn't do something different, I was going to die, but I couldn't understand why I would want to live. I remember how it felt to feel unworthy to even exist, so I tried to make myself stop existing - or at least take up the smallest amount of space possible. I remember how much it hurt emotionally and physically.

I remember what it was like to be there.
I remember how it felt.
I remember, and I never want to be there again.

The realization itself was huge. Do you know how far I've come? That I don't feel a desire to go back, only a sadness that I was ever there? I don't feel guilty for living and existing. I don't feel like I am less strong because there is meat on my bones. There was a time when I would feel those things and so much more.

I don't like remembering what it was like, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded how far I have come.

Umm... This all sounds messed up, even to me... but it didn't sound messed up two hours ago

In the therapy world, there is a skill called "Opposite Action". Generally, it's a good skill to use in coping with depression, anxiety, and other intense emotions.

Basically, the idea is: Do the opposite of what you feel like doing.
If you feel angry, serve the person.
If you feel tired or depressed and want to stay home in bed, get up and go to a party.
If you feel sad and want to cry, watch a funny movie and get yourself laughing.
If you feel anxious and afraid, do what you are afraid to do.

It's a pretty good skill to have, and is effective if emotions have no justifiable reason to exist.
It is not very effective when there's a good reason to feel angry, sad, tired, sad, or afraid. I lived most of my life always doing the opposite of what I felt like doing - pushing myself to do things I didn't want to do, because that was the "right" thing to do. Combine that with ill-applied advice from therapists, and I'm a mess.

This morning I should be at orchestra rehearsal. I love rehearsal most of the time. I go because I love being there. I love playing my part. I love hearing all of the parts come together to create music. I love spending time with other people who are there just because they love the orchestra and being a part of it. And yet, the mere thought of rehearsal this morning made my head spin... and forcing myself to drive there anyway was causing a melt down.

But I HAD to go...If I didn't go, I was letting depression win. I was letting my stand partner down. I was letting the whole orchestra down. (And now as I write this, I think, "Ridiculous. I'm a second violin, and not a very good one at that... And my stand-partner is out of town for the next two weeks. My guess is few people will even notice that I wasn't there...") I usually love going to rehearsal, and because I don't want to go, there must be something wrong with me. I HAVE to go so that I can fix what is wrong with me... How can I get back to enjoying it if I don't make myself go?

The roads were icy and snow packed. It was foggy. I was having a melt down that included teary eyes and hyperventilation. Luckily, this time I could think clearly enough to know it was dumb to drive in these conditions.

So, I came home.
Once again, I realize that forcing myself to do things is very rarely the best answer for me. I was afraid if I didn't go to rehearsal, I would never want to go back. I was afraid if I didn't push myself, I was lazy and weak and "letting depression win".

In a moment, I will go out in the 5 degree weather to shovel shit out of the horses' shelter, give them hay, and try to give them water. Not because I have to, but because that sounds like a wonderful way to spend my Saturday morning. Later, I'll go to work because I want to get some new products up on the website and to work on what our display will look like for the next trade show. Again, not because I feel like I have to but because I am excited.

And tonight, I plan to finish decorating the Christmas tree and play games with BJ...
I've lived in a world that has told me my own inclinations, wants, desires, even needs are not okay. When will I learn that it is okay to just do what I want? Life holds a lot of joy if I just let myself be joyful...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday BJ!

Happy birthday. I love you.
I love your appreciation for the world around you. I love the excitement and the wonder I see in your eyes when you are studying someone else's sculpture or creating your own. You inspire me, and I love that about you.
These we did together. Can you tell which one is mine?

This is the sculpture he is working on currently.

This one remains unfinished. The message he wanted to portray with it has changed over the years, and he doesn't quite know what he wants to do with it next.

He understands the work it takes to create something like this, and admires every detail.
I love your compassion. For me. For your kids and grandkids. For strangers. For your family. For my family. For animals. I love that you try to understand and have empathy for everyone.

We took his grandkids hiking this summer. I love watching him them.

Classic BJ and Grandson J moment. BJ is teaching him multiplication and division. I was just super excited I had the camera out and could catch it.
I love your sense of humor. Mostly, I love that you find humor in the same things I do... and you think I'm funny and clever, even when most people think I'm weird.You laugh with me, and I love that about you.

I love your appreciation for learning. I love that you read and study and learn as much as you can about everything. I love that you let me teach you about how an orchestra works, and that you have been to rehearsals and seen how they work. I love the conversations we have about science, philosophy, religion, politics, money, business, and everything else. I learn a lot from you, and I love that about you.

I love your appreciation for nature. You seem joyful when you are fishing or riding horses. You can stop and look at every flower, plant, bug, or animal track with me. You get excited about all of the new places you can go and all of the new things you can see. Your joy makes me feel joyful, and I love that about you.

I love that you don't make fun of me for being me. You've never criticized the way I dress, the way I talk, the things I love, the way I dance, the struggles I've had. Even in my craziest moments, I feel loved by you.

I love you. I am glad I know you. I am glad you are a part of my life today.