Recovery Day Two

How can I be kind and nurture myself today? Another long lie starts the day, cosy inside looking out at the frosty winter scene, feeling grateful I am warm. I have a shower, freshen up. I put my bedclothes in the machine, a kindness I could do a little more often than once a month! It always feels magic getting into a bed with clean freshly washed sheets. Tonight I will enjoy that. Then I light all the candles on the table with the vase of flowers in the back ground. And I revel in the beauty and warmth of that. Grateful I can afford to do this. I’ve got all the lamps on too in this room, another luxury though they are energy saving so not an eco sin. Then the Lumie daylight lamp goes on and blasts lumens into my face. My anti anxiety arsenal in place.

I’m feeling stable, calm even. It’s odd now to look back at the utter agony I was ravished by a week ago that lasted for days. Little rumblings of anxiety stirring around below the surface though, looking for a thought to get me with. I just say, ‘I see you, hear you’, to them, and breathe. Like I’m blowing out a candle kind of breath. I’m drinking fruit tea with honey and I have three pairs of socks on. Though I will be going out later. I have a date! He seems interesting. A University lecturer. Meeting in a restaurant over the other side of town, his choice. I leave in an hour. I don’t feel nervous at this moment though I expect that will rise a bit as the time gets closer. Hard not to have fears of rejection when meeting prospective new partners. I got a reaction before and it hurt a touch. But as not much is invested at the initial stage, there isn’t much to lose. It’s not exactly a judgement on your character or anything, even if it stings a little bit. That’s usually because it joins up with memories of previous rejections.

I had my big meeting yesterday with another multi millionaire client. I’m so wary now of these guys, and didn’t give an inch in terms of reduction. They don’t see that as you being nice, generous, friendly, kind or anything if you do. They see you as weak and it awakens their predator instinct and you become prey. Less of an equal. I’m getting with this now. It has taken a while. I just want us all to love each other. The world doesn’t work that way. I do love them, but have to meet everyone at their map of the world.

So I’ve been doing a little garden design while I wait to leave to go and meet this guy. It has been a long time since I’ve designed, maybe 2 months. My time is taken up with actual business type activities instead, and the design is the bit I actually love.

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Being Honest about Fear

I am so tempted to just come right out with the anxiety I experience in public, on social media such as Facebook. There’s a such a pretence there, people tend to just post all the good stuff in their lives, and nothing or very very little about the real truth about how hard it is for them at times just to get through each day. Well not everyone has that level of struggle but we all feel anxiety, and Id put money on it that this is every single day of their lives.

I am so guilty of this. I only show the smiling pictures of me in social fun situations, nature photos I take that suggest endless calm blissful walks in the woods, wisdom quotes I find, successful work projects….Never do I say, ‘I have been finding it hard to cope today’. Well actually until today. I dipped a toe into being more honest. I posted a Tara Brach talk and said it helped me with the stress spike I experienced this week. Okay, it was a hindsight post, not, ‘Im in it everyone and Im freaking out overwhelmed and cant cope’. But its a start of opening up. I also posted a Peter Strong video and said Id been getting mindfulness sessions for anxiety.

My upbringing taught me to show a brave face, to pretend everything is at the very least ‘fine’, that I am managing everything all the time. And then the other side of life that we all experience, the stress, the loneliness, anxiety, depression is somehow called mental health difficulties. Mental illness.

That its somehow considered to be pathological, an illness, when absolutely everyone experiences fear probably every day of their lives whether they admit it or not. It is humanities biggest and most urgent problem, responsible for just about every problem we have. It is common to us all.

My experience of opening up to people – I find we definitely all feel fear, and we all experience various levels of feeling able to cope with it. Some people have higher levels of resilience, those fortunate enough to have had those skills ingrained early. We can all learn to develop our resilience of course.

I just wonder if its time to actually stop calling it mental health difficulties. That has a stigma that makes it harder for people to be honest about their feelings.  The fact that we call things like anxiety, feeling sad and low, feeling fear, lack of confidence, self conscious etc as mental health difficulties just shows how dishonest we are in general about our own. These are things that other people have, not us. But we do.

All I keep coming back to is an almighty surge of compassion for us all in this predicament of being alive and experiencing pain. It is normal. I think the sooner we open up about it, the sooner the feelings can be allowed, cuddled up a bit and then they move on to the next, healed, or resolved.

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Today’s recovery Plan

I’m aware I’m not out of the woods yet, and vulnerable to descent into gloom and anxiety. So for a start I’m having a long lie. This is a treat and a kindness I give myself at the weekends. Next I’m going for a shower, and hair wash, this sets me up feeling fresh for the day. Then I’m going over some figures in preparation for a meeting with one of those multi millionaire clients who says he can’t afford my price. Another kindness to myself will be not to drop my price, despite whatever clever tactics he uses. He seems like a nice guy this one, but they all do at the start. So any reduction in price must mean some work is removed. I can sense a rising anxiety about this meeting. My desire to please others has not been my friend this year.

One of the side effects of having low self esteem is feeling over grateful when people accept you, and in my case with clients, I get over excited and thrilled that they like my design. I’m so grateful for the acceptance it leads me to do it for less money that I should.

This takes me into financial difficulties quickly, and my stress levels rocket when I can’t pay suppliers, etc. It’s not fair on me or the men, who do a great job, but then have to deal with seeing me in distress. I’m just finishing another job just now that made a loss. That’s 4 this year. This has been hugely disheartening and disappointing. Disappointed in myself mainly. Confidence knocked.

This is why children need to be brought up with belief and confidence in themselves, that they are worthy and heard and that their feelings matter. I was brought up to believe mine definitely don’t matter. That I was more of an inconvenience than anything. Anyways…..back to the present.

What to do now with what I have in my hands? And I have a lot of good qualities in my hands that are both innate and that my parents gave me, it might be lacking in some serious ways and cause me to do some serious self parenting but they gave me enough to make a go of life, to have a chance of success in the sense of inner peace, finding meaning, joy, financial security, maybe even that elusive loving relationship.

So after getting ready I will light all the candles on the table next to a vase of flowers I bought myself. Another little act of kindness. I will sit in front of my 10,000 lumen light box, put the radio on for company. I plan to set up a proper little Mindfulness space, make it special and welcoming. And then sit, with one of Tara Brach’s guided meditations at first to help me back into it.

And later after my meeting perhaps a walk in the woods. Don’t have any friends to see today though, so that’s a bit daunting, a day ahead totally alone. I need to address this. Maybe go to the local market in the lane.

I talked to Peter Strong last night about the resistance that comes up to helping myself. It can be really strong. Some belief deep down that I don’t deserve it. He suggested to meditate on it. Okay.

The Gift of Opening up to Others

Something quite beautiful happened as a result of my meltdown this week. No longer able to display the coping strong me, I divulged and shared my fear and vulnerable feelings to a few others. I was a little afraid of this. Didn’t want to appear weak. And also didn’t want to burden others with my pain. I felt apologetic about that. However what it seemed to do is to give those others ‘permission’ todo the same. They shared some of their more personal experiences and feelings too. My defences being down allowed their defences to melt too. I feel closer to these friends as a result.

Tonight earlier I had an hour on Skype with the Mindfulness therapist Peter Strong. He reminded me about the importance of daily Mindfulness practise, and inspired me to get back on my cushion each day. He also talked of the importance of a community of friends in his life who are on the same journey, a sangha. I’m going to look for one.

And I’ve got a date with a lovely sounding guy on Sunday. Things are looking up. The larger expansive self is back in the driving seat, for now anyway. The little scared self had usurped control this week. This made the world feel very constricted and small.

A Better Day

Lays night I skipped the Mindfulness therapy Skype call and postponed till tonight. Instead I accepted an invitation form my neighbours to walk down to the restaurant. I’m not knocking back invitations for good company just now and it was a great evening. Lots of open honest conversations. Since I’ve started being more vulnerable, they a opening up too. Back to theirs where I met 2 new very big loud interesting gay French Canadian characters, a gay conductor and an very sweet oboe player. Got to bed at a decent hour and didn’t over drink. I know I am too vulnerable to take any amount of destabilisation from getting drunk or going through a hangover. I’ve been staying off alcohol mostly recently, it’s not just working for me.

Today it’s 1 degrees and fully sunny. I’ve been out to site to see the guys and clients. Really enjoying this current client, we talk about music and have a great rapport. They are wealthy but not millionaires. I’m noticing a big difference. The ultra rich are a strange lot, more detached from the rest of us. And understandably. The live in another world. They are defensive because they know the rest of us want their money. They are afraid of being ripped off too. Especially applies to the self made ones.

I am going to write back to a guy from the dating site and arrange to meet him tomorrow or Sunday. This terrifies me on one level, and I’m also curious about meeting new people.

I’ve got my light box on at the moment. I’m taking all the help I can find. To build resilience. It’s all about resilience, coping with life. I think I’m quite tough as I’ve been through a lot of adversity in life but I’m also sensitive and vulnerable too. And could do with increasing my resilience.

If you haven’t come from a brilliantly loving close supportive confidence giving family then resilience will require conscious development to whatever extent you were not given it. My friend who is a psychologist reckons one third of the population didn’t get what is required early in life to instil resilience and well being. I think it could be a lot

I don’t feel so anxious at the moment. My mum being here yesterday helped a lot, my sons pep talk, my neighbours, my pal R.

Still need to address loneliness though, a dog and a boyfriend perhaps!

Guilt and loneliness

More and more stuff bubbling up. I feel guilty for feeling this low when I have so much to be thankful for. I’m feeling ashamed about being so out of touch with all that I have in my favour. I’m privileged and looked after in a society that provides for my every need. I think about all those out there in deprived situations in this and other countries that would love to have my life. And they would probably not be as weak and indulgent as I’m being about these temporary set backs. But I’m feeling floored at the moment. I’ve not had this level of anxiety and stress for several years. One was about 3 years ago and another in 2012 when I again was close to the bone financially, but this time I’m lonely in it all. I had a dog and a son around me before. Not it’s resounding silence and aloneness. Some of the time I really like that, I’ve enjoyed the novelty of not looking after others and doing what I want when I want. And it feels okay when I sense that my life is getting better and better and stronger financially and I can build something. Now that novelty has worn off. And it’s been set back after set back this year.

I did have a great sleep last night with the help of some Valium and feel more energy today. I’ve sat for 10 minutes in front of my lumen light and contemplating going for a swim. Everything to do with work is giving me a spike of anxiety though, each call, react email from the guys, suppliers or clients. I don’t really know why. I’m fed up with the whole thing. It’s been nearly a year of hard work and little reward. All the work that goes into each project and some making a loss. The weather is largely responsible as is my lack of interest and enthusiasm. And I’m feeling so lonely. A whole year of living completely alone has been mostly very isolating and boring. I thought I’d just get used to it. And see it as a bit of a spiritual retreat. But I’m a communicator. I love being around people. In a living with sense too.

My mum has been a great listener and support. And last night I opened up to my lovely son and he was amazing. I don’t like to burden him with my problems as he is off having a fabulous adventure around the world. He was so wise. And radical suggestions of a change of career.

Later I went for. Long swim, the pool was warm and empty for part of it, a joy. I visited one team at a site, then another at another site then the guy we have left doing snagging at another site. Went shopping, then put a big pit of chicken curry in coconut milk on the stove for later. I lit some candles and made some tea. I asked my mum to come and just be with me while I go through some tasks I have anxiety about and have been procrastinating on. She is coming soon. Sigh. The effect of the Valium has taken the edge off. It’s okay right now.

I’ve got a Skype appointment with a Mindfulness therapist tonight. Something to look forward to. Oh and I replied to a guy who looks interesting on the dating site, a wise looking academic around my age. I would like something good to happened balance the adversity. Maybe a new pal would be just the ting. Let’s see what happens. Thanks for listening. It so helps to be here. Pic is of some new shoots already appearing in the park.

Lightbox Therapy

Today I switched my new light box on, 10,000 lumens blasting into my face for 20 minutes. I am going for every bit of support I can think of just now, just to keep my head above water. And this one seems quite benign compared to the medication options, though I did take a sleeping pill last night. It didn’t work, and neither did it the previous night. Awake middle of the night for hours, racing thoughts…I sit up and read to distract and listen to Tara Brach.

I had just recovered from one litigious client drama of the day when I made the mistake of reading my emails last night and it was a lawyers letter from a client there threatening to sue me for a lot of money. Its all pretty unfair and unjust, but she has the money to take me to court and I don’t have much  money. And the money I do have I saved for buying a flat as I have to move again soon. Now those plans are under threat.

I did find a small refuge of wellbeing though, at one point I relaxed into the idea that ‘this too shall pass’ and I really felt it, put my hand on my heart in an act of self compassion. And yesterday I started swimming again. I am feeling pretty desperate at the moment. However I am grateful for all the help Im receiving. My mum, uncle, my neighbours, my pal, my son…and the paid help too! and this here blog and you who take the time to read this. It so helps just to express it.

Today I am bursting into tears a lot.