I want to be perfect
This desire only does me harm
Since I started therapy in 2013
I have learnt to let go
It is freeing
It is healing
This week-end was not easy. Saturday I had my dog’s training, I usually look forward to it. It takes place in a forest like park with loads of dogs around and they are just hilarious to be around. But this saturday even if I was not having it, I somehow managed to pull myself out of bed and join the training group. My only motivation was the memories of my past fun experiences with my furry besties and the fresh air, the fresh air had to do some good.
Then I went home. I had a skype meeting all day for an association I am part of. We had an election. I knew that I was proposed to be one of the three VP but the truth is I really don’t want that position. I have so much on my plate already and my own projects that this year I wanted to prioritise myself. I was not assertive enough in my arguments and ended up one of the VPs for three years. God help me ! I hope this will be a learning experience for sure.
Numb? I cannot feel anything at the moment. Food is calling me. I win the fights. Sometimes I am so numb and tired that all I want to do is to sleep. I wake up the next day without feeling refreshed or rested. The numbness continues.
I know there is a feeling wanting to resurface but I am not letting it.
Then it did. Sadness. I feel sad. Why? I don’t feel like I want to create. I want to be held, hugged, loved. I need to love myself. But right now I am too tired.
My Easter was not about being with family quite the contrary it was all about being on my own.
For some this might be easy, and others, may be a little like me, it is a struggle. You see when I have space for myself and I create space for myself, I have to deal with who I am. I didn’t really know “me” before, so it’s all very new, all very scary .
I live far away from my family (12 hours flight), I don’t have friends here. I have colleagues and acquaintances but no-one I would qualify as friends. This is fine with me. If I listened to my self-abusive judgmental thoughts: I would think that not having friends is weird, pathetic and ultimately I have “failed” in that department.
My reality is that my family couldn’t care less about what is going on in my life, I used to care in way to seek for their love and acceptance. But now since I realised that it did me more harm than good, I don’t anymore. I prefer to take care of my own self love and self acceptance. As for society, well, the several billion of us have too much on our plate to care for one little soul who has manufactured rules around her little life and gets sad about it. So I decided that over Easter, I was not going to fly to see a sibling or a parent or spend it with a “friend”. I was going to experience it on my own. I did the same over Christmas 2016. It was a much-needed experience.
At the end of the day I only have myself to account for and even when I will be in a relationship, I will still always have myself to account for. I have myself to improve before I experiencing any situations around me.
Since I knew I would be emotional, nostalgic and judgmental toward myself, and since I used to have issues with food, the first thing I did was to make sure that I had the bare minimum of food at home over the week-end. So two types of vegetables, two types of meat and some pasta or rice. I call them “food with effort” which makes it more effort consuming now to binge on. I find it easier to interrupt the urge to binge and come into a place of reflection or self-examination before my brain is gone into a frenzy of making food. “Food with effort” because I cannot just reach for meat and eat it raw.
I then make a big batch, store it in the fridge and take a little at every meal. I also bought fruits, salty popcorn and sweet popcorn. Why ? Because when I watch a movie I like to have a snack. Popcorn are lighter snacks and they are not trigger foods. I avoid any trigger foods like: chocolate, cookies, cakes, chips, especially when I know I will be feeling a little lonely in my weaker minutes.
The second thing I did was to tune in, and listen to myself and listen to what I wanted to do. Since I had decided to take this time for myself, I wanted to know what I wanted and not be on automatic pilot. Friday I wanted to stay at home and do some chores around the house and I did that guilt free. I was fully aware that cleaning can be obsessive for me sometimes as well but much easier to manage. There is this light in my head that just says, hey, enjoy the couch and leave half the laundry. You did enough.
Saturday morning, I went to the beach to set myself and my dog free. It is always a fun experience. My dog doesn’t like nature, he prefers to run to where the bungalows and the restaurants and to follow people around instead of just enjoying the vastness of the beach. Eventually he enjoyed the abundance of sand, the scary sound of the water and the starling cold of the puddles around him, watching him was funnier than the Today’s show. I enjoyed every minute of it. As I drove home I felt lonely because I was judging myself again. There were families at the beach, and friends windsurfing. I was on my own. I eventually moved out of that mode and enjoyed my moments. I thought: hey ! I’m all right been on my own and when and if I was around anybody it’s just so much work. Immediately I was back to my grounded place, I went for a coffee run, a muffin and headed home. Relaxed all afternoon, movies, writing, sitting on my terrace, guilt free.
Easter Sunday, I wanted to go to church do I went. I wanted to thank God for, well, pretty much everything. Church means family setting though, I missed my family in spite of their imperfections. I was also hoping to hang out with one of my friends but she had to go to a birthday party and kind of ditched me. Usually, I would drop her home after church and we have a laugh in the car. I don’t mind doing that. On sunday, she was just trying to walk away while I was talking to her instead of being upfront and say hey I am going to do so and so, can’t hang out today. So I a little hurts, I brushed it off in the beginning and thought it was not a problem but then I realized that I was a little hurt. It might also have been my expectations, as I drove home I thought, this is why I should not expect anything from anyone. I went for a coffee run and headed home. I felt unwanted after that, a feeling that is difficult for me to deal with. As I drove home and I counted my blessings, and let the feeling of rejection sit there and remain with me.
I counted my blessings in that a little over a year ago, I was struggling with rejecting who I am, and materially I was struggling to get a car, to sort out my license, I was trying to move out of my parent’s house and struggling with the idea of living on my own. Now, in my world, taking care of myself is a priority. I don’t mean that in a narcissistic selfish kind of way, I mean that in a way where if you’ve been struggling with yourself and you’ve been hating yourself for years and you’ve been having self-confidence issues and you’ve been feeling unloved. Then at the end of the day none of the external things matter what matters is you, you are a priority and if a parent doesn’t give you the love an guidance you need and if significant people around you didn’t teach you much. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can teach yourself to love you, and it is fine to want to be loved because you are human after all.
Easter Monday wasn’t an easy day, I was challenged with two emotions loneliness and contentment. Usually easter monday was a family day for me. We used to go for picnics, the beach, reunions it was always fun. So I felt like I should do something special that I should be out there at a park or the beach I should take advantage of Easter Monday because that’s what people do. I did not want to truly do any of that and instead of accepting that I wanted to relax in my appartment away from people and not make easter monday anything more special than the fact that it was another day off; I started thinking that I was a pathetic, sad, little lonely person and that spending easter alone was a big mistake.
What else do you tell yourself when you are so used to messing with your head and letting a family that is living miles away and a whole culture affect your internal, your self confidence. My compass missed out on its orientation for so long that sometimes it still points to the mistaken convictions.
Eventually, mid-afternoon I just accepted that I didn’t want to go anywhere that I want to do anything. I wanted to be lazy in bed, watch movies, play with my dog, teach him new tricks. That is what I did, guit free eventually.
The hell with : “that’s what people do”.
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.
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”.
Sometimes I wonder if I am clinically depressed. I know I am dealing with some lows, disapointment and insecurities. To the point where I never want to get out of bed. I procrastinate my work. If I am out, I cannot wait to go home, hide and escape under the covers. Sometimes I cry. On my knees in my bathroom floor, in my bathtub, curled up under my covers. I cry out of desperation, grief for my father’s passing, impatience, hopelessly dreaming for a better life. i cry. This is my week, my month. Am I depressed?
Gladly I am not bingeing so much anymore though. May be twice a week. I don’t fear food but the excess of it. The loss of control. At the same time I never want to go back to being too in control.
Today while talking to my therapist I thought I had figured out why I would not get out of bed. Not couldn’t but wouldn’t. Last night was I only fell asleep at 3 am. i just could not stop the thoughts, worries and feelings. They tormented me all night. UsuallyI would eat and eat and eat. Then fall asleep from the guilt, shame and physical pain. These days. My body is so broken. It cannot take anymore of the abuse. So while I tossed and turned. I was sure to have figured out why the abuse of sleep. I thought I had the answer: “i am scared to move out of my appartment, to travel back home”. But when I started my little summary of the week attempting to reach that conclusion. My argument lost its logical sense. He, in his trained professionalism, immediatly said that the sleeping, overeating, seeking for security is all a way of escaping the major decisions I need to make. The changes that my mind and body is longing for buth that I keep denying. I love arts, creativity but I never learnt it. I like law because I studied it and I am attracted to the theory of justice, of upholding the rights of citizen. Unfortunately the legal profession has been toxic to my mind and thus my body and soul. Arts on the other hand makes me whole. So even though it might be easy to say: then be an artist, be creative. I am terrified that O have wasted my life studying and dreaming about law. Was that all a waste? Or does God really have a plan for me? As my mother believes strongly he does, at least for my legal career.
The decision pending for me is whether I want to do the bar exam. Whether spending that time and energy is worhtwhile and something I honestly want to pursue. All I know is that it might be. I also know now that I cannot live without art.
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.