I am ready for this next new decade of my life.
Bring it, 40s!
I am ready for this next new decade of my life.
Bring it, 40s!
OK, so when I left off a few posts ago I showed you what I looked like before The Huge Hairstyle Change. Here’s what I looked like afterwards:
I cut off 4 inches, got a keratin treatment (my hair’s new best friend), and went straight instead of curly. I LOVE it!! I felt like the burden of the past 5 years of illness lightened up a bit with all the hair I got rid of, and I finally feel that my hair matches the essence of who I am. Plus, with my new style there’s definitely no more hiding behind my hair anymore, which is both scary and exciting.
And speaking of hiding, in order to really affect the changes I’ve been wanting, I had to stop spending all my time and energy on trying to hide my body (which wasn’t really working anyway). The scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life up to this point was the time I took a class on and then performed stand-up comedy five years ago (scroll down to the second group of posts, if you’re interested in reading about that). But coming out of hiding about what my body and I actually look like after the past 5 years of being battered by the effects of illness and medication is definitely Number Two.
I have a lot more to say about weight and body image and whatnot, things that I’ve learned and wrestled with and worked through, but that is material for another post. This post is more of a quick summing up the work I’ve done this year in getting myself to a place where I feel fabulous about turning 40. And as part of that work I’m taking a very deep breath and coming out of hiding just a little bit more by posting a recent picture of myself. I”m not quite brave enough to do “Before”, but you can just imagine someone who is completely ashamed of her body, hides in over-sized, sloppy clothes and dodges the camera as if her life depends on it.
This picture is me now, after a l-o-o-o-o-o-t of (and still ongoing) work on making peace with (and actually befriending) my body, coming to terms with the way my body looks right now, in this moment, while still working on the goals and desires I have for it, learning to dress in a way that flatters my body right now, in this moment, and-and this is the really huge part, the part that has taken me 40 years to be able to say-realizing that I am pretty right now, in this moment. And that feels pretty damn awesome.
As I wrote yesterday I’m getting ready to turn 40, and so back in January I decided to approach this year a bit differently. Normally I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I picked some specific areas of my life I wanted to focus on, and some specific goals I wanted to achieve in each of them.
One of those areas has to do with my appearance. I don’t know what happened, but somehow I missed the part of high school where you learn how to do clothes and hair and makeup. Probably I was off somewhere by myself, reading a book and writing some angsty, emo journal entries. So I sort of gave up, especially when I got sick 5 years ago.
But this year I have been feeling a bit better, and a bit stronger, with a bit more internal energy and resources, and so I’ve started to care about these things a bit more. The only problem was that it was sort of like I went to sleep for 5 years, and then woke up with this completely different body. The body of a stranger. Not my body. And I had no idea what to do.
For a long time I just hid, either in the house, or in my clothes. But a couple of months ago I decided that I’d had enough of that, and that I was finally ready to figure out how to make my outsides match my insides.
Hi, God, it’s me.
(Oh, by the way: I know that I address these thoughts of mine to many different things-
The Universe, Life, To Whom It May Concern-but you know I’m always talking to you, right?)
OK, that’s good, because I’ve got something huge that’s weighing on my mind today and I need your help.
You know that in 27 days I turn 40, and for the most part, I am thrilled.
But there’s one thing I’m kind of worried about-one thing I’m afraid might never happen. And it’s something I really, REALLY want. Like, since childhood. Since the first moment I was conscious of having desires, actually.
I want to write and publish a book. Or maybe books. And I’m so afraid that this might never happen for me.
I know I’m only 40 (well, 39 and 339 days, if we’re being precise), and that I still have lots of life ahead of me. And that some people don’t start getting published until they’re well into their 50s or 60s, and that these days there are a lot of different ways that people can publish or be published, and that I didn’t really have much worth reading or writing about until the past few years, and yada, yada, yada.
But I still worry. A LOT.
And I wish this weren’t the case, but every time I hear about someone else publishing their book, especially if it’s someone I know, I get so jealous. It might only be for a minute or two, but holy cow-in that couple of moments, that jealously feels like it’s consuming every single piece of me.
I do not want to feel this way. And this is the way I feel.
This is not the place I want to be, this wondering-if-this-dream-will-ever-come-true, having-trouble-even-writing-anything place. And, this is the place I’m at.
Sometimes it hurts to want this so much that I try and force this dream to please, PLEASE, JUST GO AWAY. Or I try to trick myself into believing that, no, now that I think about it, I don’t actually want this.
The problem is that I can’t not know what I know. And what I know is that This. Is. What. I. Really. Want. Apparently this dream is sticking around, no matter what I do.
But wanting something can sometimes be so hard, especially when my mind tries to convince me that I’m running out of time. (Because, as we all know, turning 40 means you’re practically at death’s door.)
It’s not as if nothing has been happening with me and my writing; as a matter of fact, I have experienced HUGE movement over this past year. There has been a writing mentor, a writing community, and writing classes.
But there has also been an extended fallow period, with little to no writing. Although my crazy-ass monkey mind has kept itself busy spinning lots of tales, interpreting this quiet time as, “You’ll never write anything ever again,” and, “Oh, so you managed to eke out a few paltry sentences on your blog- big fat whoop-de-doo,”, and, “Everyone else is going to use up all the possible ideas that can ever be written about while you’re stuck here doing nothing, and even if you do start writing again, a blog post here and there is impossibly far away from ever writing an actual, full-length book. You’ll never be able to do that. And even if you do, it will be too late.”
Those kind of stories I could do without.
However, there have been lots of other dreams that have been coming true this year (about which, more later.) Dreams that seemed like they were in a universe so unbelievably far away that they were things I could never, ever have in this lifetime. And now they’re here.
Hm. I should probably stop and read that again. “I thought I could never have those things. And now they are here.”
Wow-looks like You’ve already started answering me on this, and I haven’t even finished writing it; at least, I have the piece I need for today. I’m excited to see where we go from here.
Thanks. I’m glad we had this little talk.
Well I don’t know about you, but so far I have spent all of 2012 trying to deal with all the crap that happened at the end of 2011.
First off was the disappearance of an online group of which I’d been a member for the past 3 years. I LOVED that place. I met the coolest people there. We had a bunch of different forums where we could rejoice with, sympathize with, and brainstorm ideas with each other, which really knit us together as a community. Plus we had monthly teleclasses on topics ranging from copy writing and marketing, to leaning the principles of non-violent communication, to how to deal with the scary stuff that can come up when we’re working on our relationship to money. It was a really safe incubator for personal and professional growth, and we saw lots of different dreams come to fruition over those 3 years, including Cranky Fibro Girl.
But then the woman running it decided that she didn’t want to run it anymore, and so she shut it down. It was a big investment on her part to maintain it, but no more so than our investment of our time and our money. So then this wonderful place, which for me and many others was our main source of support and community, was suddenly gone. And not only had it ended, but it had ended badly, with lots of hurt. So everything was made that much worse, because the place where we would all normally go to work through our hurt was the place that was causing the hurt. So we were kind of screwed. And it really, really sucked.
So now there’s this quiet, sad, empty space inside me where this community used to be. I know that something new will eventually arrive for me, but it hasn’t shown up yet. And since I spent most of my online time over the past 3 years interacting with that community, going online now just reminds me of what isn’t there for me anymore. So I’ve been avoiding The Internetz until that starts to feel better.
Then there was a little experiment that I decided to try last November. For the past couple of years or so I have been a practitioner of something called Shiva Nata, or Dance Of Shiva. It’s part movement practice, part brain-stretching practice, and part meditation/noticing-your-process practice. So in November I decided to do a little bit of Shiva every day, and then blog about my personal process, as well as any insights that showed up for me.
It started off great, but unfortunately I sort of forgot that anytime I start focusing intently on my inner processes for an extended period of time, it triggers my bi-polar, mood-cycling things. I’m not really sure why this happens, but if I’m not careful I just get lost in my own mind.
It finally got awful enough that I had to stop my practice and find a way to recover. Plus, it was also all tied up with the online community I mentioned above. So because Dance of Shiva has all these anxious, emotional, charged associations for me I’ve been kind of gun shy about starting to practice again. And so that’s another loss I’ve been grieving.
As a matter of fact, my emotions were so intense, and so out of whack that I made an appointment to go see my psychiatric nurse a few days before Christmas. I was afraid that something bad might happen while we were all off for the holidays.
So we talked and decided that between my Shiva experiment, the never-ending health problems that kept cropping up over the previous three months, and all the pain medicine I was currently taking for my fibromyalgia, it was not surprising that I was experiencing so much emotional overwhelm.
And then as we were getting ready to leave, I asked her a question I’d been wondering about for a while; namely, what was my “official” diagnosis. (Extremely Important Side Note That I CANNOT Stress Enough: If you ever ask a question like that, make sure you really, REALLY want to know the answer. Because once you know, you can never not-know again.)
She told me Bi-Polar II, which would account for the anxiety and depression I experience. And then she said, “Have we ever talked about Borderline Personality Disorder?”
We had not. But we did then.
On the one hand, when she was reading all the diagnostic criteria my body actually started to vibrate, and in the flash of one second I saw my entire life played backwards and thought, “Oh. I GET it now.” But on the other hand I just thought, “Huh,” and was kind of thrown for a loop, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to come to terms with this latest diagnosis.
So I’ve had kind of a lot going on over the past few months, but I think I’m coming back to myself, and words are starting to show up again.
So Happy Friday to everyone, and thanks for sticking around 🙂
Those of you who’ve been hanging out with me for a while know all about my torrid and passionate love affair with The Number 8. (Or, as I refer to it, “Perfection”.)
I haven’t really thought much about 8 lately, but today I was going through some of my archives and I found this post, which describes, in all its glory, the awesomeness that is The Number 8.
I guess I must have run out of happy Number 8 stories, because the only new story I could think to write about was, sadly, The Day When Eight Was Not So Great.
It was back in 1998 and my husband and I were traveling through Spain. We were in Seville about halfway through our trip, and for some reason we hadn’t eaten all day. Luckily we happened to pass by a McDonald’s, so we stopped in for some lunch. But because we were so hungry we became super-focused on the food when it arrived, and unfortunately we stopped paying attention to what was going on around us.
We’d been eating for a few minutes when we were approached by a trio of twenty-something guys. They didn’t say anything, but one of them tapped my husband on the shoulder and pointed to a coin lying on the ground by his chair. He picked it up and we were grateful for the kindness and thoughtfulness offered to us, strangers in a strange land, right up until the moment when we discovered that they had “kind-ed” us right out of our camera and our little traveling backpack.
We didn’t really think we’d recover any of our things-THANKFULLY, our passports and money were NOT in the backpack. But we decided to report the theft anyway so that later we could file a claim with our insurance company to replace our camera.
We walked into the local police station ready to speak to one of the Guardia Civil. But instead we were greeted by a little electronic kiosk which instructed us to type up a little report detailing the nature of our complaint. And unfortunately, rather than soothing us it actually made us feel worse. Because we were already feeling stupid for letting this happen to us, and violated, and very far from home. Then instead of maybe getting to tell our story to a sympathetic (human) ear, we had to give our details to a very not-personal machine.
But the final demoralizing straw came when we clicked on the first screen and began filling out our report. We entered all of our personal information, and then clicked over to the screen which asked for the details of the crime. We were all set to lay out our own, personalized mugging experience story in exquisite detail, but instead found ourselves looking at what was basically a “choose your own adventure” style crime menu. And there it was: Theft By Distraction.
So even though we felt especially and personally targeted by our thieves, officially we were just another foreigner who got duped.
Needless to say, we were pretty down by the time we were finally ushered in to a tiny room and greeted by two officers. My husband doesn’t speak Spanish, so I spoke with the men and then translated for him. The computer program had turned all of our information into an official report, and we were called in so that we could answer any additional questions and then sign our statement.
The printer spit out one copy, and we both signed it. Then came another one, which made sense because it’s always a good idea to have duplicate copies of important documents. But then, the copies kept coming. And KEPT coming, with no end in sight.
Since we had all only spoken Spanish this whole time, my husband and I would occasionally have little mumbled conversations off to the side. We figured we were safe because there’d been no indication that either of the officers spoke English. So when they kept handing us sheet after sheet to sign, we finally turned to each other and asked, “How many copies are there?”
At that the officer in charge straightened in his chair, turned to face us, and, smiling broadly, replied in tones as clear as a bell, “Eight!”
…when you look down at the list of birthday gift ideas you’re making for your parents and see that you have written down “Etymological Dictionary.”
So if you’ve been hanging around here for any length of time at all, I know you’ve picked up on the fact that the thing I pretty much hate most in the entire world is BEING WRONG. Which is preceded only by the act of HAVING TO ADMIT THAT I WAS WRONG. (In which case you might be asking yourself why I’ve chosen to announce that fact here, online, in front of God and everyone, the answer being that, if I have to be wrong, then by God, I should at least get a good blog post out of it.)
The Wrongness in question here has to do with a recommendation from my fibro doctor which I have been VEHEMENTLY rejecting ever since I first set foot in his office almost three years ago. I’ve done pretty much everything else he’s suggested, but every single time This Other Thing comes up I see a red flag, lower my head, and try to gore it to death. And so every single time I go in for an appointment, we have the exact same conversation. We really don’t even have to talk in person anymore; I could just type up the script and send it in to him. It goes like this:
Fibro Dr.: “So how have you been feeling?”
Me: “I’ve been having a lot of pain lately.”
Fibro Dr.: “What have you been taking for it?”
I tell him.
Fibro Dr.: “Have you tried taking any anti-inflammatories?”
Fibro Dr.: “Why not?”
Me: “Because they don’t work.”
Fibro Dr.: “How do you know?”
Me: “Because for the year before I came to see you when they didn’t know what was wrong with me, they had me on 800 mg of Ibuprofen. And it didn’t do anything.”
Now that is true. But normally I am totally open to trying a whole bunch of different things to find one that helps me, because I believe that eventually, something will. But for some reason I just interpreted that one medicine’s not working to mean that NO medicine of that kind would EVER work for me. Who knows why.
Maybe Ibuprofen was an easy target for my rage and frustration at all the things that got my hopes up and then let me down, all the things that gave me absolutely no relief.
Or maybe I just kept thinking that “it doesn’t work” thought over and over and over so many times that it solidified into a solid, concrete barrier in my mind.
Or maybe I just like being pissy sometimes. Who knows.
I mean, it’s not as if we were having this kind of conversation:
Fibro Dr.: “Hi. I’d like to drive this metal spike through your earlobe.”
Me: “SUCK IT.”
in which case my response could be considered an appropriate one.
But no, we’ve basically been having this conversation:
Fibro Dr.: “Hi. I’d like for you to try out a medication that is going to be a lot easier on your body, is not narcotic, does not have addictive tendencies, will help you feel a lot better, and will help you regain some quality of life.”
Me: “SUCK IT.”
Oy. Apparently it has been more important for me to believe that I was right, than to admit even the merest breath of possibility that I could be wrong, which would then begin to open up the possibility of finding something that might actually bring me some relief.
So I went to see him again last week, and we did our same little dance. But this time was a little different, because my husband was there with me-because I have finally admitted that I cannot be both the patient and the advocate-which was a good thing, because he hasn’t given up on anything, and is constantly expecting us to find something that will really help treat this fibromyalgia.
So his conversation with the doctor about anti-inflammatories was completely different than all of mine (read: “open minded”), and what with one thing and another I ended up taking home a sample of a prescription strength anti-inflammatory drug. But the truly miraculous thing about this whole situation was that the next day when I started burning, I actually opened that package and took some of the medication.
I’m sure you know where this story is going: The medicine worked. It. Actually. Worked. Now, it COMPLETELY BROKE all the rest of me, to the point where I had such a bad reaction that I ended up having to lie ramrod straight, motionless, for hours on the bed, and had to call my husband and ask him to PLEASE COME HOME FROM WORK RIGHT NOW PLEASE!, but, despite all of my belief to the contrary, I knew I had just experienced something phenomenal (if excruciatingly painful in other ways): I had just experienced an anti-inflammatory relieving some of my incessant fibromyalgia pain.
So, I don’t know if he’ll ever read this or not, but if he does, then,
Dear My Fibro Doctor: You were right. And I was wrong.
Next time I’ll try to leave the female donkey at home.
ETA: Um, apparently I left out some important details of this story.
1. I was given prescription strength Naproxen w/something to protect my stomach. Now I just take over-the-counter-Aleve, and it is working just fine.
2. It broke me=-incapacitating stomach cramps and nausea. For a while I couldn’t even keep water down. Never had that happen to me before, not even w/C DIFF or my gallbladder surgery or ANYTHING. That was really scary.
Her studio is named The Playground, and is completely pirate-themed. And there was lots of cool stuff to buy in the Toy Shop. This will be important in just a minute.
So yesterday I had an appointment with my acupuncturist, and after 6 appointments or so, I realized that there were some things I could do to help make myself a little bit more comfortable while I was there. Specifically, I could bring some pillows with me for extra support. Because normally when I’m at appointments like these (massage, physical therapy, etc.) and they’re working on my arms, my arms hang over the edge of the table, straight as a board, and just as rigid. And the therapists are always like, “Hey, you can just relax.” And I’m all, “DUDE-THIS IS ME RELAXED.”
So yesterday I brought one of those neck pillows, plus a pouffey pillow on which I could rest my arm.
And when the assistant was raising up the table to the correct height, she glanced down and got a good look at my pillows.
And then she did a giant double take. But I could tell that she wanted to be polite, so she didn’t say anything.
So to help her out I said, “Yes, those are Pirate Monkeys.”
“Hm,” she replied, in that overly-bright way that health care professionals use when they don’t want to upset a potentially crazy patient, while her eyes darted back and forth, surreptitiously searching for the nearest exit.
God, I love being me.