Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Early this morning, thanks to the marvels of the Internet, a friend I've not seen in more than fifteen years posed a question on the Facebook status I posted about being okay. "Are you centered, too?" she asked "Are you grounded?"

Indeed, I am not--as illustrated by my trip to the MD's office yesterday afternoon--my first in years. If I were grounded, centered, balanced--well then, I wouldn't be feeling foggy or like I'm falling, and then panicking about the fact that I feel that way. At work yesterday, right before eating lunch I felt light-headed and out-of-it. I figured it was probably low blood sugar, having only had coffee and a banana for breakfast and a tootsie-pop for a mid-morning snack. So I ate a protein-packed garden burger, voraciously, and waited for the feeling to fade. When it didn't, I worried. My heart raced, my fingers and toes tingled, my breath quickened. I got up to walk to my friend Shay's cubicle and felt like I was falling over. When I got to her extra chair, I didn't want to move again.

I'm usually quite good at calming myself down, having had years of practice. As I sat in Shay's cube, I focused on my breathing, I massaged my neck over the aortic artery to slow my heart-rate, I distracted myself by helping Shay with the work she was doing on her computer. But each time a new wave of fog passed through me, I panicked again. And then I cried. Right there in cubicle land for all passersby to see. Another coworker who asked if I was okay, called the head of the first responders team in the building who came to look me over. It was utterly embarrassing, and at the same time relieving--somebody else was in charge.

Eventually it was decided that I should see the doctor just to get my vitals checked, and since I didn't feel I could drive, I called my mom who left her busy work schedule to come get me. I cried more. By the time I reached the office, I was steady but weak. 

Shay texted me: Feeling any better yet? call or txt when you can.

I replied: I'm ok. I think I just overdid the "I can handle this."

And I can handle this. This of course being the new formation of family. With my exhusband now living 800 miles away, and my worries in the middle of the night about how the kids will be affected, how they will navigate long visits with their father over school breaks and summer, how I will survive their absence when they go, it's no wonder I feel like I'm falling and stumbling through a blinding fog.

I know, deep down, that we'll all be okay. We are tremendously good at surviving. But for some reason yesterday, the weight was too much, and I was thankfully lifted by friends, family, and coworkers. I can't do this alone, and I am lucky that I don't really have to. The village comes to me when I need it--and I need to do better at asking for it. I need to turn "I  can handle this," into "We can handle this, and I'm so thankful that you are here." 

I need to handle my Self with as much care as I handle my children. I need to ground myself--my spinning thoughts, my eating vending machine lunches, my stiff and trembling body letting me know that even though I'm taking measures to slow down, there are other things I need to pick up to support mySelf. To ground myself.

And my kids wake now to start a new day. My son is always first to hug me in the morning with the strongest of arms, and I'm reassured with a new day. A little nervous, too, but I'll get through this day. And the next. And the next. And soon, it won't just be "getting through," it will be rising above with my feet firmly planted.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"I don't need you to follow in my footsteps," I tell her. 
"I need you to take your own steps."
This is all of the conversation she wants to hear, 
But it is enough.
Like the time I told her:
"Your greatest gift to me is for you to Love yourSelf."

And I tell her this because I fear that I don't love enough. 
Because I don't love myself enough. 
Because I can not be who I think I should be, 
and instead am working on Loving who I am.
and wishing everyone else could too.

Like the Yoko Ono wish tree in D.C.
That's what I wrote: Peace can only be found
If each individual in this world Loved themSelves
well then, there would be no space for hate,
for fear,
for anger,
for jealousy.
These things would become obsolete.

Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Too, Shall Teach

I am trying to remember that this, too, shall pass. I feel stuck and frustrated much of the time--a common theme in my life, especially right before a big shift. And I am trying to go easy on myself, because I get scared that I will spiral downward every time I don't feel like getting out of bed, or when I cry--consistently--about the claustrophobia of my job, or when I stuff myself with M&Ms regardless of whether or not I actually want to be eating them.

Having seen myself in bad shape before, I know the signs and I know that I am lucky to have people in my life to reach out to and experiences to hold in my heart reminding me of how far I have come. Like the fact that I no longer deadbolt my door at night, look out the window, and worry about who is lurking outside only to come back and check again hours later. Or that I no longer stay up late and watch TV until I fall asleep because it is the only way for me to get relief from my thought patterns. Or that I no longer starve myself out of fear that what I eat will make me sick, and that my hands no longer bleed daily because I have killed yet another layer of skin with hand sanitizer or scalding hot water.

So I realize I have made great progress, but there is still work to be done.

Last night, after I lifted a piece of flank steak my dad had cooked to my nose and breathed in its delicious scent, I was asked why I didn't just take a bite (I've not eaten meat in years--after having deleted it from my diet because it was deemed--in my mind--unsafe). The question comes up for me more often now as my cravings for meat become stronger. Two days ago, I nearly took a bite of my daughter's chicken nugget. I thought to myself "I could just take a bite. I could chew it and I could taste it and then I could spit it out," and as I type those words I know that it sounds ridiculous, but in my head it makes sense that it wouldn't harm me if it didn't make it to my stomach.

And so last night, as I salivated and cut the steak in pieces for my daughter, my mom says to me, "You could have gotten professional help, you know. Actually, you still can," and I remind her that I had been seeing both a therapist and a nutritionist at the time I was at my worst. She struggled along with my struggle, as mothers do, because I insisted on helping myself in "nontraditional" ways. Instead of popping pills, I dug into an exploration of what purpose this new anxiety served. I came up with a lot of things, actually, many of which you can read about in other essays and here on my blog. And doing that helped, a great deal, and I believe created more sustainable change, as my life is richer and my relationships with people more open and honest.

So on days like today, when I struggle, I remind myself that I handled things in my own way and I've gotten better, but I also know "full recovery" is not a term I can use. I am  uncertain that it is a term that would ever even make sense because I can't go back to not knowing things I now know. I can't go back to being who I was before I became afraid of food. I created a whole new set of rules and regulations and habits around food--many of them actually good habits--and I don't feel like it's even possible to have the same relationship I had with food prior to this experience of fear. Nor do I want to, because of who I have become as a result.

This experience is a great teacher, and I remember this, too as my frustration grows. These days I am tired, a lot. I am tired because my life is very full of activity, and I am tired because I don't serve my body well. I am tired because I am not writing enough, and I am tired because I eat cinnoman rolls for breakfast. I am tired, because I give out my energy to Others, and I am tired because I don't reserve enough for myself. But this too, shall pass, and I will remember to take my own advice and that is:

to Be here. Now.

to Love my Self as fully as I love Others.

to be patient with Change.

to take walks or make phone calls when the broken record in my mind begins to weigh me down.

to remember I'm better than I was, and tomorrow will be greater.

to Let Go of expectation.

to get out of my own Way (by acknowledging and then releasing Fear).

and to Breathe.