Of upper cuts and balancing acts

Almost to the end of Week 1 of my personal fitness challenge. (Don’t ask me how many weeks there will be. I haven’t gotten there yet).

This week’s goals were:

  • Add: green smoothies
  • Subtract: soda
  • Exercise: 3 times

All were a success, I am proud to report. It was surprisingly easy to get out of bed at 5a, even on Monday. This week was boxing, barre (PureBarre specifically), & spin (FlyWheel). Boxing was a lot of fun. There’s something very rewarding about getting out of bed on a Monday morning, then beating the shit out of something. My legs actually ended up being more sore than my arms. Maybe I don’t punch that hard? He had us doing squats in between rounds (8 rounds of 3 minutes with a 1 minute rest in between). Chase that with barre the following day and by Wednesday, I literally almost fell when I got out of bed. I caved and bought some biking shorts after having bruises on my “birthing bones” for days after the last class. It still hurt, but I bounced back a lot more quickly. I seriously have no idea how guys do it. They also have seat pads which I’ll ask for next time. There’s no such thing as too much padding. I thought briefly about not getting out of bed on Thursday for spin. Then I thought “You paid $50 for those damn shorts. Get your ass out of bed”. Thus, the bed was unassed.

Soda was remarkably easy to cut out. I haven’t cut out coffee or tea, but I limited myself to 2 coffee runs this week. I only went on my rest days. Otherwise, I drank a massive amount of water when I got to work. I also got some fizzy waters to stash in my desk. There’s no such thing as too much fizzy water. I made a smoothie as my afternoon snack all week. They ended up more like a slushie because I was using frozen fruit. Adding a banana seemed to help even out the texture / temperature. I tried to be mindful of what I ate for lunch, too. I’m not going to restrict myself on the weekends. I like the whole 80 / 20 principle. I also start new week counts on Monday because it’s just easier.

I weighed and measured myself last Sunday to give myself a baseline. I haven’t set a “goal weight” or measurements. It’s more just a way to track progress. If I see any change this week, it will be minimal. Frankly, if I had a “goal weight”, it would be about 15 lbs under what I am now. That’s wildly unrealistic and I know it. I actually lost about 7-8 lbs when I moved after breaking up with Boy. I’ve been at the weight I am now, give or take a few pounds, since mid-March. Hrm. Everyone’s body has an equilibrium (for lack of a better term) when it comes to weight. I’d say I’m right about where I need to be given my body composition. Since the rational part of my brain is in charge right now, I’m fine with that.

Next week’s goals are:

  • Add: green smoothies, lean (mostly vegetarian) protein
  • Subtract: soda, candy (Bye, bye Sour Patch Kids)
  • Exercise: 3 times (I’m scheduled for barre, boxing, & hot yoga)

Watch what happens.

XOXO!

Of non-confession confessions and wedding dresses

Time for the not-confession confession because everybody knows what I’m going to say anyway.

It’s hilariously easy for me to let my life revolve around a boy.

That said, it has begun to work in my favor. A former fling showed up. We met years and years ago, then lost touch. It was the odd email on my birthday or “Hey! I saw this article and thought it was funny!”. We started talking more over the past few weeks. The possibility of a rebound started to percolate in the back of my mind. Guess what? He’s not single. However, he isn’t the kind of guy where that might slow him down, especially given the relationship status of his current lady. In the past, if he started something, I’d be like “Eh, why not? So what if he has a married…girlfriend…thing?”. No.

I don’t share my toys.

I know open relationships work great for some people. I’m not one of them. I’ve tried, but I’m not the kind of girl who is into that sort of thing. I don’t want a guy who is into that sort of thing. Said fling is a known entity. Been there, done that (teehee!), and there would be no surprises. Except that I’m not the only one and I know I’m not the only one. He may be okay with sampling a few other things from the buffet, but I’ll sit here with my same ol’ cucumbers and ranch dressing thankyouverymuch.

Yes, I do want to get married. Yes, I do want to have babies. No, I don’t want to do it right this second.

In both of my previous long term relationships, the word “marriage” has caused many a hackle to be raised. When I was in college, it was a status symbol to be engaged either right before or right after graduation. There was a small pond next to the dining hall and if you got engaged, you got tossed in it. Almost all of my friends had been tossed in the pond by the time we walked across the stage. I felt horribly left out. It happened again when I reconnected with all my friends from high school (and made a few more). The bulk of that group got married in 2009, so not too far removed from our college years. Again, I felt left out. If they didn’t get married that year, they married their partner at the time later on.

The fact that the guy I was with was pretty vehemently against getting married only made it worse. So I looked at myself, wondered what was wrong with me, and lied. I said I didn’t want to get married either. What’s the point unless you want children or joint bank accounts? The point is I want someone to stand up in front me, my friends, and my family and promise to be my best friend and love me for the rest of our lives. I really, honestly don’t think that’s too much to ask. However, I’m not going to bust my ass to find the future Mr. Emily. Ignoring the fact entirely I’m barely removed from the end of a 4+ year relationship, it’s not worth my time right now. I especially hate online dating. I’ve know people who’ve met their spouses online or seen otherwise successful relationships. I’m thrilled it worked for you. I’ll pass. The future Mr. Emily will come wandering by sooner or later.

The same goes for kids. I want kids. I don’t approach them with the same fear I did before all my friends started to have kids. Being a professional aunt has gotten me warmed up a bit. For as much as I fancy myself iconoclastic, I’m a traditionalist at heart. I’m not going to have babies until I have a husband. Ideally, I’ll have had said husband for a while. I know myself well enough to know that I don’t have the emotional capacity to raise a child. I’m far too selfish right now. I’m pissy when I get woken up at 3a because the cat stepped on my head. I’d be even worse getting woken up at 3a, then having to get out of bed, sit for god knows how long to get the small human back to sleep, then try and get back to sleep myself. Thus, also, why having a husband is damn useful. Babies also aren’t cheap. I like buying pretty outfits or spending money on my hair. I’m not ready for the kind of financial commitment that comes with one of those little buggers. I will, however, love the day where I can watch my father playing on the floor with his grandchild(ren) pulling the same shit he did with me when I was young.

Just by allowing myself to watch the bad habit start to come back, I was able to use it. I don’t want to just be another member of the harem. I don’t want to compromise my own feelings and wants because some boy is either too scared or too assheaded to take the next step. I don’t want to have to lie about any of it because I think that’s what someone else wants to hear. As my BFF has beaten me over the head with for the past month – never settle.

Now Former Boy would always throw a fit whenever I mentioned I preferred to know how a movie was going to end so I didn’t waste my time or money if I didn’t like how it ended. He said you can’t enjoy the ending unless you’ve gone through the story first. For argument’s sake, the above is how my story will end. Now how am I going to get there? I don’t know, but I intend on having a hell of a (good) time getting there. I may not even have to take up alligator wrestling or platform diving.

XOXO!

Of my beautiful scars and the ashes from which they rose

Captain’s Log: Day 13 (Guess who can’t count. Surprise!)

I’m still feeling good. My moods are relatively even. I haven’t had any wild reactions, positive or negative, to anything. I’ve been sticking with my to do’s and reporting regularly. To all of my stable ponies, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re sick of my texts. Thank you all, nonetheless. I’ve gotten a bunch of silly little things done that I’d been putting off. I see my neurologist on Tuesday. I’m still planning on discussing what happened, if nothing else to make sure she’s aware of it. The possibility of needed medication won’t be a complete surprise if it does turn out that I need it.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, things are starting to warm up. Instead of posting my annual “dos and don’ts” for tattoos, I wanted to share a story. When I got out of the shower last night, I took the time to study all of my tattoos. I paid special attention to the ones I don’t see every day, one on the back of my left arm right above my elbow [a stylized rose], the little one on my back [it reads “danse avec la vie” which roughly translates to “dance with life” in English], the one on the top of my left thigh [a cardinal sitting on cherry blossoms, a homage to my childhood state of Virginia], and the bottom part of my phoenix which wraps around my right elbow.

There’s also a quill and dagger in black and red on the bottom of my left bicep. I can only see it when I raise my arm over my head while looking in a mirror. I got that tattoo the day I met Boy. The tattoo shop I frequented had an event called “Man Day”. They would do discounted tattoos, then have a party at one of the local bars in the afternoon and evening. The picture of me attached to this profile was taken that day as well. August 14, 2010.

As I was taking the time to examine them all, outwardly, they’re a random collection of artwork. Inwardly, it’s a record of the toughest 4 years of my life. Just like someone who cuts, the more confident (for lack of a better term) I got, the bigger and more visible they became. My retirement piece, which I know I’ve mentioned, is my phoenix. At the time, I hadn’t anticipated that would be my grand finale. Part of me figured I’d just keep going until I ran out of skin. I had plans for the back of my left calf and more work on my actual back. Then as I started to get my shit together, it ended. I finished the phoenix in on my 26th birthday. I had my successes and my failures over the next 3 years, but I never went back under the needle.

For a long time I believed, and was told, that I was damaged. I’d ruined my body because of them. I would always be looked at and judged as a freak. Even the people who cared about me the most silently judged me. That didn’t even hold a candle to my damaged heart. I’m not damaged. I’m not broken. I can allow others to judge me and not feel obligated to defend myself. While the truth would definitely silence even the harshest of critic, I would be telling them out of sheer spite rather than because I genuinely wanted them to know the story behind them. I could get them removed, but the scars it would leave behind would be even more obvious. At this point, most of them are just part of the landscape. I’ll forget about them until someone points them out. I can’t forget the story behind them, but I don’t have to let it keep writing more chapters in my life. That chapter is over. Time to get on with the rest of the book.

Also, happy (early) Friday the 13th. I’ll have plenty of black cats crossing my path, but that happens every other day of the year. Here kitty, kitty.

XOXO!

Of taking inventories and cats sitting on your face

May I open this entry with: When the fuck did it get to be March?!

Done.

BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS ENTRY. IT WILL BE HEAVY.

In the interest of full disclosure – I was diagnosed with severe depression yesterday.I took the Beck Depression Inventory courtesy of my therapist. I scored a 34 which is in the severe depression range. It’s the low end, but in the range nonetheless. I’ve suspected it for a while. When I first started seeing her almost 5 years, it was part of the basic assessment. One of the things she said was a HUGE red flag was you stop bathing or showering. I went a week without a shower, justifying that baby wipes and dry shampoo were sufficient since I was working out in the morning & didn’t really have time to shower. Even so, I should have taken a shower when I got home. Really Emily? The Bullshit meter was going off the charts. I refused to admit it. I bought myself some fancy Lush bath bombs & bubble bars to make myself take a bath. That was Thursday night.

Part of the exam also assessed suicidal intent. At least twice during my commute my last week, I thought “You know, I can just crash my car into that barrier and it would be over. No big,”. I wouldn’t do it because I care too much about the people who love me. I don’t want to leave them behind wondering if they said or did something to make me do it. Regardless, the thought was wandering around in there. My justification was I’m broken. I’m so broken that no one can put me back together. It’s not fair to everyone around me to deal with that. Plus, it would shut my brain up. You can’t think if you’re dead.

Another clue was I didn’t want to be touched. By anyone. At all. Ever. Highly unusual for me. I’ll bounce over and give or take a hug any time. Any member of my “freebie” list could show up at the door and I’d be like “Put it away, zip your pants, and I’ll take a rain check.” I didn’t even want a hug from my own parents. Hands where I can see them, please and thank you.

Before we immediately jump to medication (especially given the epilepsy meds), I was given a daily “to do” list for the next 2 weeks:

  1. Bathe or shower every day: Checked this one off for today. I showered, brushed & flossed my teeth, & put good skin products on my face. I didn’t wash my hair, but I’m getting my hair blown out later today. I can outsource that one. My therapist also said don’t go cheap on products for the rest of my body. I need the good stuff. If you can buy it at Target, that’s a no.
  2. Get more exercise: Granted, the wacky weather this week didn’t help this one. That said, it would have been no problem getting to a 6a class on Friday. My alarm went off and I was like “Fuck it” and went back to sleep. That’s a no go. I don’t have to burn 500 calories in an hour, but at least get out and take a walk. There’s a walking trail around my office. It wouldn’t kill me to get out during lunch and walk around for half an hour or so. The place where I’m getting my hair blown out is an outdoor shopping center. I think I’ll go up there before my appointment and just walk around for a bit.
  3. Be creative: This could be anything from a pottery class to organizing a closet. I shit you not about the latter. I suppose figuring out where to put what can be creative. I’ve been on a writing kick the past few weeks. I wrote about a paragraph last night before I went to sleep. I have a ton of knitting and crocheting stuff around here. Even just knitting or crocheting a few rows while I’m idly watching TV counts. Not only does it use a different part of your brain, it leads to a sense of accomplishment. When you’re super depressed, finding a sense of accomplishment is like finding a tap dancing unicorn.
  4. Reconnect with friends: This one isn’t a daily task. She said try to spend time with friends at least every other week. I have plans to see one of my friends this afternoon so I can give her the Valentine’s present that’s been hanging around since the date. I have tentative plans with a very old friend in two weeks so he can give me some CDs that he burned for me forever and a day ago. The originals got lost somewhere in the shuffle and I think my music collection needs a little bit of a BSB detox (She says as she hits ‘repeat’ on their 2009 album [This is Us]).

There were some other circumstances that led to living with my parents for a few weeks. It worked out as a perfect “rehab” time. They might object to being called rehab. Whatevs. Point being, I’m in an entirely different location for several weeks. My therapist said a change of scenery does a lot up front. I can’t argue that point. My dad and I went to see Kingsman last night and that shook me out of it a bit. I also took the opportunity to tell him what’s going on. My mother doesn’t believe in depression like it’s Santa or something. He was supportive and told me to do what I need to do to get better. I’m very lucky that have a huge support network literally all over the country. I have plenty of people willing to encourage me, kick me in the ass, and help me up when I faceplant.

One funny story before I close out this one. Lily (my kitten) has turned into my little furry alarm clock. At 7 this morning, she was bouncing on the bed, planting on herself on my face so I would get up and feed her. Cat ass is exactly what I need to get the day going. Bad kitty. She made up for it later. I was sleeping on my stomach, she cuddled up next to my shoulder, and put her paw on my back like she was hugging me. I guess she knew I needed a little love. Then she went back to sitting on my face. A brief, shining moment indeed.

Take care of yourselves, fair readers. I’ll do my best to stay accountable in here.

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Depression

My depression existed long before my abuse.

When I was 12, we moved from a (relatively) small town in Virginia to Atlanta. The Internet was still a novelty in those days (“Get off the phone! I need to use the Internet!”). My main method of communication with my friends were letters and phone calls. These were also the days of land lines where calling outside your area code came with a higher charge. Thus, my phone calls were limited to 30 minutes or less. I had a hard time making friends in my new school because almost all of the other kids had been classmates since kindergarten or first grade. The only people I really made friends with were the other 2 new girls. To say I had a hard time adjusting would be an understatement. I got better when the Internet & instant messaging became a thing. I had an unrestricted way to communicate.

I wrote a lot of poetry during those 2 years. I know most people make fun of poetry, but to my 7th grade self, it made the most sense. It was a way to get all my feelings out in a form I could relate to. I kept the book & reread it after I graduated high school. I wrote some very dark things. There was no danger of me killing myself, but my heart broke for that girl who had no idea what to do. She did the best she could with a lot of feelings that she didn’t fully understand. Then came the abuse & depression reared its scraggly blonde head once again. I told you that story to tell you this one…

I wanted to share a tool my therapist gave me to keep depression at bay. It’s not a solution by any means. Always, always listen to your health care provider (mental and / or physical) first. It’s just a trick that can help when you’re feeling particularly challenged. It’s called CESS. It stands for Creative, Exercise, Self Care, & Spiritual. Ideally, you hit all 4 on any given day. Realistically, it’s 3. I recently reimplemented this in my life & I noticed a shift. I keep a journal & at the end of the day, I write down each point. Some things even overlap. If I go to dance, that covers both Exercise & Creative. Depending on the style or the tone of the class, it can even cover Spiritual. Reading a book covers Creative because your brain has something else to chew on. You may choose to practice an instrument, paint, or write.

Self care & Spirituality are easily the most personal & sometimes the hardest to incorporate. Personally, I take self care very literally. Taking a shower, brushing my teeth, putting on make up, or using nice smelling lotion all cover that point for me. Self care for you could be taking a night off, watching TV, & focusing on yourself rather than someone else. It could overlap with exercise by taking a yoga class, for example. Spirituality is where I tread very lightly. For me, meditation right before I go to bed satisfies my spirituality. I was raised Catholic, but I don’t relate to it at all any more. I spent the weekend with my dad’s family who take their faith very seriously. My dad himself takes his faith very seriously, especially given how hard this year has been for him. Whatever allows you to feel a connection with the greater world, universe, or what have you, is exactly what you need to do.

CESS is the root of “cease” or “cessation” which means “to end” or “to stop”. It won’t stop depression in its tracks, but it can slow it down long enough to allow you to get back on your feet.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Cease & desist

XOXO!

Of healing and the best way to do it

Once again, time to head back to the reason I created this blog in the first place.

I spent a very long time trying to heal from my sexual assault. I went to therapy. I spoke with other survivors. I read every blog post and inspirational quote book that I could get my hands on. It all helped, but none of it really hit me on that deep, emotional level. It was an inch here, a step there. Then, one day, the right words popped into my brain. I posted them here first. The last line of the second paragraph “I forgive myself for hanging on to something so horribly broken, I cut myself in the process” encapsulates my watershed moment. All those advice blogs and posts had pointed me in a direction that allowed me to come to that conclusion. Ultimately, I put it into a form that truly resonated with me. A part of me always knew that I had a hand in what happened. He actually ended up dumping me when all was said and done. He chose to end it and like the classic abuse victim I was, I tried to hang on anyway. I hated him by the end, but I was more afraid of being alone. Better the devil I knew than the devil I didn’t. Again, I was young. He was young. Neither of us knew what the hell we were doing.

It’s incredibly freeing to write that down. It sounds totally counter-intuitive, but it’s my truth. I accept the role I played in an incredibly toxic relationship. It wasn’t 100% his fault. These situations rarely are. When I look at the woman in the mirror, she looks back at me with the benefit of that behind her. Those experiences allowed me to enter into the best and most amazing relationship of my life. It shaped the self confidence and awareness to be the partner I want to be. It also allows me to say no or stop or walk away from a situation. I know when to let go before I hurt myself again. That’s the best part of it all.

Whatever you’re recovering from, whatever you want to heal, whatever pain you’re fighting with, trust the words in your own head. It’s not the words that perpetuate negative self image or self harm. It’s the quiet voice hiding in the back whispering your truth. I do my best to offer my experiences to help guide others. What worked for me may or may not work for you. If nothing else, perhaps I can point you in the right direction to find your own watershed moment. May you find your peace, whatever form that may come.

XOXO!

Of silence and hamsters

An odd phenomenon has been happening in my head recently. Silence. Normally my brain runs a million miles an hour propelled by hamsters on steroids banging on pots and pans. Lately, especially when I’m trying to think about something work related, my brain goes quiet. I’m not necessarily complaining. It’s nice to have a little peace and quiet in there. It’s just jarring. I downloaded a meditation app over the weekend. I think it might actually be working. I’m on Day 3 out of 10. My brain has been more quiet in the past 5 days than probably the past 5 years. I’m not feeling the compulsive need to constantly be doing something. Yes, I have plenty to do, but I’m not in full on panic mode. There isn’t a damn thing I can do about the situation I’ve been presented with. I’ve done what I can. Now it’s up to someone else to do their part. Once they’ve done their part, it’s back to me. I know I’m 100% capable of mastering what’s been laid before me. I know my employee is 100% capable of mastering her part of the process once we have the proper programs and training. I trust my other 2 to keep their systems running without me babysitting them. There have been a few hiccups, as happens, but nothing that has sent me into one of my epic tail spins. I’ll take this as long as I can. There’s much to be said for staying steady with your boss’ boss’ boss asking about the progress of something “urgent”. All that said…

I made the decision recently to scale back my membership at the dance studio. I’ve been kicking myself for “wasting” classes since I renewed the membership in January. I currently have the 30 class / month membership. I called the studio and asked for my activity over the past 3 months. The most I’ve ever used is 14. There’s a lower level membership of 10 classes / month. That seems much more reasonable given my situation. Since I’ve been promoted, things have been far less predictable. Some days I can walk out at 430 on the nose, other days I’m pushing 6. I’ve also discovered the gym in my apartment complex. It doesn’t make much sense to beat myself up over something I love. Earlier today, I was close to texting a (dance teacher) friend of mine and saying “Tell me to grab the ladyballs & try out this technique class”. That doesn’t do anyone any good. My current studio is very squarely in the “recreation” category. The focus is on dance based fitness classes with minimal technique. While the other studio has fitness classes, their focus is more on technique, training, and aspiring professional dancers. As it stands right now, my life doesn’t allow me to consistently go to a class such that I could progress at the rate I want (read – impossibly high standards).

I’ve always been very sensitive to the fact I’m in dance limbo. I started when I was 13, much later than most dancers. I had to take an adult class for several years because I wasn’t at the same level as other dancers my age. I stayed hardcore into dance, progressed quickly, and then stagnated when I was 19. I didn’t take classes regularly again until I was 23. By that point, the technique I’d learned before was all but gone. I haven’t really improved since then. On the flip side, if someone began as an adult, they can devote more time and pick things up more quickly. I was insanely intimidated when I first walked into the training studio. Not only did I walk in late, I walked into a class of people who, as it were, outclassed me. It’s not much fun if I’m thinking “Holy crap, everyone is looking at me! I can’t do this! They’re all laughing! That 10 year old has better technique!”. In the end, it’s fairly simple. If it looks like fun, go for it. If I hate it, no one is going to make me go back. That’s not love, that’s self harm. I’ve had quite enough of that in my life thankyouverymuch.

Maybe that’s where all the hamsters went.

XOXO!