Accepting “me”

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I used to be so afraid of being on my own. I am not sure whether to write this post in the past or the present tense because I still continue to struggle with that fear. Present tense it is then.

My fear of feeling alone has nothing to do with: not being in a relationship or not being around people. Hence the difference with being physically alone. Instead it is about being with ” myself “. So here I am writing to remind me that it is ok to be with my own company.

Running away from my emotions
A few months after I started therapy and really working on myself, I realized that when I was not thinking about food exercise cleaning, daydreaming about a perfect family or a perfect relationship then I was left with facing “me”. The person on the inside. I was left with the emotions I never wanted to feel especially the negative emotions, I was constantly running away from. There I was with my pain, sadness, anger, shame, guilt… I was left being “a human being”, a sensitive person, an emotional person, a state I never allowed myself to be as if it was illegal to FEEL.

Instead of letting these emotions run through me, I punished myself through controlling food, exercise and through rituals that permitted me to constantly drown in my own pity party. Yet, none of it ever gave me any energy instead it drained the life out of me. The pity torturous party was followed by the worst hang over, guilt and shame. I wasn’t actually living my life and being who I am.

I was running from it because it was not the perfect life I should have.  I was too busy running away, punishing myself believing that I was the ugliest, the worst person and that I was a failure because I could never ever be perfect in my eyes or in anyone else’s eyes.

From imaginary thoughts to reality
Today I went to the beach with my little dog. I was hoping noone would be there  because I did not want to see any human beings around me. I didn’t want to deal with my thoughts that the people may think I’m fat or that I am pathetic because I’m on my own and I have no one around me. I did not want to deal with these imaginary judgments.

That’s just it though they are just imaginary thoughts. Even if  people around me might be thinking that I am whatever it is that they think I might be, at the end of the day it doesn’t really make a difference. I can just go on about my day and just be. Easy to say but since I have gotten so used to devilising myself these thoughts still come up often. In fact, just a few months, maybe a year ago,  those thoughts would’ve stop me from enjoying a walk at the beach on my own with the cutest dog in the world.

Not where I “should” be
As I drove back from the beach I realized that I am 28 now, at the end of this year I’ll be 29 and at the end of next year I’ll be 30. I also realized that in spite of all of my controlling in the past, I am still not the image of the person that I thought I should be. I wanted to be thin with perfect hair, perfect skin. Only then, I believed, I could be loved by anyone. Truth is only then I would love myself. You see because only then would I look perfect.

I forgot the part that none of that mattered so long as I embraced my extra weight, sometimes dry hair and blemished skin. I was also blinded from the fact that I could not be thin without abusing myself. I misunderstood what dieting or healthy eating was. I used it to my own advantage to torture myself to attain the impossible.

At this point, since as early as 13 years old, I set myself a goal that : I had to be a lawyer and married with a dog and one or two kids in my twenties. Because this is what I should do to be the perfect daughter, sister or whatever. I still want this but in reality I have absolutely no control over it.

Law, I can work toward, and I have, I still feel I want to progress but I believe it is a healthy motivation because it is rooted in me wanting to better myself for my own intellectual challenges.

Relationships, marriage etc…. It takes two and the second person has not walked into my life just yet. You see in my culture and may be just as a social construct in general, if you are passed 25 years old, my understanding was that I should already be either settled down, in a relationship or planning or somewhere along that path. Since none of that happened for me, I always thought that I was a failure, I still sometimes think that I’m a failure and that’s part of not accepting who I am, who I have become and where I am at now.

Making peace with my emotions
I became a little scared on my drive back home. Then, with some degree of logic and before I threw myself into my past habit of a pity party. I reminded myself that I am not so bad afterall. Even though I don’t have a perfect body, it is ironically twice the weight that I wish it was, my hair has become fluffier than ever and my skin has some acne free weeks and some “oh my gosh what the heck happened kind of week”.

At the end of the day if I keep running away  from myself, I will keep on missing out on who I am and missing out on my life. These days, often when I feel down or when start thinking “I’m a failure” . I reverse these thoughts by “getting real with myself”. I go through an exercise where I count my blessings and accept my imperfections. Where I bring to light what I could improve in my habits and most importantly congratulate myself for what I have achieved.

Peace with inner “me”
It has now become easier to sit with myself because I can accept who I am. I can accept when sadness, anger, joy, disappointment and fear that visits. The are at the end of the day what makes me the person I am and I am comfortable with that. I allow myself to cry, to be angry and scream into a pillow.

Accepting outer “me”
My physical self is much more difficult to accept because it is what is seen on the outside. Also because I tend to jump into judging myself or imaginning that others are judging me. There in lies my rejection. I have come to realize that it actually takes longer for my body to mould without me controlling it. Because it is a reflection. A reflection of what is inside. When I am broken and abused on the inside so it is mirrored on the outside.

The struggle continues
There are times, I can accept that I have one body and mind to love, one body and mind to cherish. That my body needs time to adjust, to change and that for me drastic self imposed change leads me down a path of destruction. My mind needs acceptance and understanding.

I guess what I am most thankful for is that this body and mind saw me through thick and thin. Literally. I have abused my body left and right. Starved it, overfed it, dehydrated it. Yet it is still standing. I now know that this will only happen from the inside out. With a lot of patience and acceptance.

I know this still journey has just started. I still have a long way to go. Yet I am thankful I had the courage to start it. I had the strenght to own up to my own abuse and to free myself for my illogical thoughts.

Therapy continues. Work continues. Acceptance fluctuates but at least it is there now.

xoxoxox

Izaotee

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Be kind to you

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The beauty of blogging is in the freedom to write or not write. I have not been writing lately for no particular reason other than it just has not been the right time and I have not been in the right mindset. That said, my struggle to “be” continues. At times the fight is harder and in rare moments I am able to find some peace. I cherish those moments. Walks by the dunes, staring at the beach, the sky, the stars, drawing, designing, making clothes.

Then, there, I fell free, connected, one body, one soul. My physical appearance no longer matters. My bulging stomach becomes an insignificant worry and the XXL clothes? Well … just another thing of this world.

Since I last wrote, I have moved away from London, traveled to Africa and now back in the Netherlands. It has been a long long journey. I started a new job, a tedious, toxic one, but that was my choice. Now I need to work on getting out of it and finding something better. Living a well deserved life demands effort.

When I am not drained of energy, I motivate myself towards my freedom. Towards being the person that I really want to be. Although that remains undefined, I know aspects of what brings me peace within. Creativity being one of them. Self-expression, whether confronting a small conflict or asserting my ideas is another.

Since I have been denying myself of that right to “be”, it seems easier to give in and settle with the mistaken habits, of being someone else; until I realize, all I am doing is giving my power away to invisible influences. Quickly, I lose myself.

So, the struggle continues. I suspect, there is a high probability that  this will be a lifetime struggle. Though I hope, it will become easier with time.

I used to think that I needed a break from the World because it was so mean to me. Truth is, I was cruel to myself. Then I had another realization. There will always be bitter times, the trick is to live it. Feel it. I do not want to forget or escape anymore. It has not worked. Bingeing, over-exercising, starving, trying to be perfect has not worked. Self-torture has failed. Self-love is surely the answer.

I hope to have a little more of it today, tomorrow and in all the other days I have left on this earth.

This I write to you and myself, so we both remember to “be”.

izaotee

Unrecognisable

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Monday it rained. Charmingly grey outside.

I took the day off, because I worked all week-end. I did not binge, I was bored, I overate in the evening.

Tuesday, still raining. The grey in the exterior seeped into me.

I went out to shop for my brand. I saw a glimpse of myself in the store mirrors. I am unrecognisable. I have never been this fat, this sad. To get out of bed in the morning I have to practice a lot of self-affirmation. The “you can do it” and the “you are worth it” are my good morning kisses. It helps. Sometimes but not always. I am applying for a vacancy in a lawyers chambers. I don’t know if it worth it. I won’t find out unless I try. So here I am trying. When I want to curl up in bed. Sleep away my self-hatred and low self-esteem.

Just for today I wish London was sunny. Maybe that light would seep into to me.

izaotee

A thought for my father

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If you have been reading the previous post. You would know that I walked out to the nearest starbucks for breakfast this morning. You might think it would be a trigger. Yet, I learned that it only becomes a trigger if I walk in while in a vulnerable place inside. So fragile that all I would want to do is escape. Reach for that fix. Run away from emotions that make me human.  I only needed a change of scene. I stayed in my apartment all day yesterday and it smelled like regrets, guilt and binge.

No make-up on, hair like a cave woman, clothes not matching. I needed to get out. Get some perspective. Get some space from my space. Then, after my little morning outing and grocery shopping. I came back to my niche. I broke down crying while printing images for my design research and listening to music. I cried because I missed my Dad. The thought was triggered as I was processing the bad news I received on tuesday. My cousin past away and lost her battle with breast cancer. She was only 32 years old. Diagnosed at 27. She left her husband and two boys of 9 and 7.

I wasn’t really close to her at all. My family always teased me about looking like her. Especially as she gained weight. To who-else compare the newly chubby girl than with the old chubby girl? I hated that comparison. She was also the youngest and only daughter. Any death is sad though I was never very close to her. Even so, it made think about my father and his passing. The void that he had left. Times I wish I spent with him, words I wish I had said. I never allowed myself the right to grieve until I started therapy again about a year ago. I thought that just like my mother, I was at peace with his departure. A lie. I was tirelessly restricting trying to be the perfect daughter.

Now, I let myself, miss him in the comfort of my room or my apartment here in London. Away from the stares and opinions. I truly miss him. I wish he was here. I wonder how things would differ if he was. Would I have held my ground and kept myself together? Would I have continued to keep a facade, try to the best of my ability to make my parents and brothers proud? Or would the real me, denied of the rights to freely live still push itself out anyway and demand its place in my world?

In a way, I believe not much would have changed. I would still discover my love for arts, face my struggles with food, continue to doubt my abilities to deal with those in the legal field. With or without him. Even if he was and always will be a part of me and has left an unforgettable print in my life, I cannot help but become the true person I am meant to be. Denying myself the right to “be who I am” in his presence or absence would still lead me to self-abuse.

Caught up in my overthinking. I miss my father. As simple a thought as that.

xoxoxoxo

I.

If only the World was empty

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Monday after my therapy I feel back into the comfort of my bed until 10 30 a.m.

I had two goals that morning. First: internalise that I can do all the things that I am meant to. All the things that I want to do. Second: avoid a morning binge on pastries because it only sets my day into a painful spiral of obsessing about food thus leading me to overeat or binge. There I was abusing my sleep, my head pounding as if I had been out drinking all night.

I wanted to feel some sort of real joy. Naturally, it means getting in touch with my creative soul. So I woke up, put on my baggiest clothes and headed to the university of arts library. There, I indulged into some photography books. Desperately searching for inspiration for my fashion design project. I remembered days when I would stay in the library until 4 a.m at law school. I was there finishing my assignment or revising, but most time I was there to be. The library is a place of solace for me.

When I was first diagnosed with anorexia. Family, friends, and doctors had warned me about the likelihood of dying after such a long period of starvation. One of the main reasons I fought to get better was the dream of reading all those books around me. I was once blurted to my brother that I wish I could read them all. I never wanted to be a know it all. But there is just something about being surrounded by books, picking a random one and trying to understand and remember what is written. It chases my ghosts away.

Three may be four hours I spent in that library. Then it was time to go home. Did some grocery shopping as I felt some the anxiety slowly fading and a motivation to live a healthier life settle in. Dinner was fine. Sadly the ghost of loneliness paid a visit. I ended up almost finishing the box of pop tarts. Full and regretful. I forced myself to sleep. No day is ever perfect.

Tuesday morning, I woke up with a heavy weight of fear and shame. I needed to continue with my research. Unfortunately, yesterday’s motivation had disappeared. So, I willingly procrastinated. I left it all to tomorrow. Until then, there are hours to kill. I watched movies, ate and slept. I knew what I was doing, or not doing. I was aware of my deliberate waste of time. Regardless, I still felt guilty. There isn’t much to say about tuesday. I manage to complete two sketches and ate way too much.

Today, wednesday is a sunny one. Outside at least. Within it is still dark, filled with guilty and anxiety. I pulled myself out of bed to end up at this starbucks cafe across the road. My appartment smells like binges. It is haunted by painful memories of my irresponsibility. My throat is closing up at this very moment, my heart racing. Regretting my past dark week. I am out of bed, having breakfast after being obsessed about food all morning.

My anxiety as I understand it right now is due to procrastinating. Bills I have to pay for my shop. Unemployment. Loneliness. Guilt. Fear of an uncertain future. Worries about my arts and law. Binges. All mashed up into one. I wish the world was empty. I wish noone was here. I wish I could roam the streets aimlessly without thsi irrational fear of being watched, judged, seen.

xoxo

I.

Can’t feel better

Tuesday is a blurr. I can’t remember much of it other than feeling guilty for wasting my life away locked up in my appartement. Wednesday wasn’t better. I was meant to see a play with V but as the day went on. My brain couldn’t order my body to get up and out and live. So I cancelled. Doing something I was not excited about wasn’t going to help the situation.

I was suggested by my therapist to try and break the obsessive thoughts by changing scenes. I tried my little roof top. It worked once. On tuesday, I think. Going for a walk has become terrifying. I feel watched, judged, inferior. I also feel exposed to my unhealthy escapes. My drug. Food.

Wore my baggiest clothes on wednesday, I walked out. Headed to the art store. Bought pens, gouache, and came back home. Contemplating my bed, a movie, food. I felt disgusted. I needed to do something else. Instead I entered the nearest starbucks, if only it was a park with trees not muffins. The nearest park is too far. I wasn’t in the mood. Had a chai tea. Started doodling. I felt calmer. The urges lessened. They did not disappear, I went home. Bought dinner. Too much dinner. Headed home with a less clouded mind.

I kept painted trying gouache. Swirling my brushes on the paper. Remembering why I hated that medium. It runs, it is water based. I can’t express myself with it. Stopped. Calmer again. Feeling even more stable I watched a movie, while eating and fell asleep.

I cried that day. I am not sure why but I cried. I thought about my mother aging, my father passing away, unemployment. It brought tears to my eyes.

Today should have been better because I had an art class in the evening but it was not. I cannot find the motivation to apply for jobs, to send inventory for my shop. I spent the day in bed. Knowing that if I was really in the darkest place I would eat all day. I lost the will to live.

I had two pastries instead of one. Pasta for lunch and I slept. Sent my adverts to my shop manager and slept. I was not deeply sleeping because while I slept there. I still felt guilty about wasting my time in bed. So here I am sitting at the art school’s cafe. Waiting for my class to start. Once again feeling like a stranger. Surrounded by beautiful, joyful people. Feeling huge, ugly.

I can’t seem to feel better…

Apologies for venting and complaining. Can’t call my therapist. I want to try this on my own. If and when it gets darker than this that call might be necessary.

Izaotee

New day ! Wednesday

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I was nervous about fashion class yesterday. It was a field trip. Gaining all this weight back and more reminds me of embarassing moments. Times when I couldn’t walk as fast as the rest of the class. When I would pretend to laugh and complain inside if I couldn’t enjoy hiking with my brother. When I was picked last at team sports. I had urges, thoughts about a cookies and more. I was genuinely hungry. So I had a cereal bar.

At coffee time after our retail research I had a chai tea latte. It was in a food hall at Selfridges. I was surrounded by food while stressed in class. Not the best of all situation. During our discussion I thought about a box of pop tarts. Well because I heard about them in movies and wondered what they would taste like. Buying a whole box would not be wise in this moment of weakness.

When the class ended we all walked out. I was the fattest. Embarrassed to buy that pop tart box. I walked out. In the streets on my way home I felt proud. Once again for not giving in.

One day I hope food will simply be an accessory to my life. Not the whole outfit.