What to do With this Vulnerability?

I've been pondering calling my uncle, but something keeps holding me back. I had planned on doing it on this current business trip, and despite having a lot of time this afternoon and evening, I couldn't pull the trigger. Maybe tomorrow?

I had a therapy appointment, and not much was resolved, although I talked about how it felt to talk to Stretch Guy and what happened in that appointment. I guess I was disappointed that she seems so out of tune with the idea of mind-body connection, although she acknowledged that it's likely attachment issues surfacing, especially given the tenuous attachments in my family. Still, I hire her to help guide me through this stuff, not to sit there and say, "Wow, that's really interesting, I suppose there could really be a connection". It's probably time to go therapist hunting. Oh, and she keeps talking about how I need to get past my anger at my mom, and offers some ideas for communicating with her, but none of them resonate. Yeah...I know...I need to find a new therapist.

I still feel raw from my talk with Stretch Guy, and after another session with him, it's only slightly better. I was anxious walking into his office, and then he called out me out on acting like I don't want to be there (I don't, duh). We had yet another talk before I got on the table and this time I started crying before stretch even started. He asked some pretty probing questions, and I responded truthfully instead of shutting him down like I wanted to. He inquired about my support at home, and his response was almost hilarious, "You found yourself a strong man". If I weren't so fucking wrapped up in my shit in that moment I probably would've starting laughing. Then again, there is a bit of insight in what seems like an odd comment considering how I've been treating Stretch Guy, showing up anxious and negative. He's probably wondering what the hell kind of relationship I could be in given the little he's seen of me. And, he's right: S has to be strong to put up with his wife in emotional crisis. That being said, I actually felt better overall during this session as Stretch Guy asked some guiding questions and kind of helped me process a little bit. And bonus, my shoulders were more open, responded to the stretch better and that's a win!

I still can't stop thinking about whether I want to continue working with him though. He's recommending I check out another therapist after my tepid response to his questioning about my current therapist. In one of my earlier sessions before the emotional tornado hit, he recommended I go to an Integrative Pain PT, which I finally did, and that was interesting. It's something that only takes a few sessions to clear some of the dysfunctional movement out of my body, so I'm down with that. I guess it's nice that he's willing to help, but I'm kind of suspicious at the same time. I don't know why I'm suspicious, he's fucking offering to be an ally and to help me for crying out loud.  I've got at least 3 weeks before my next availability for an appointment, so I'll let it simmer a little and see if I can get my internal dialogue to calm the fuck down before I go back in.

 

I Was Vulnerable and it Didn't Kill Me

I was writing this post and then I got the phone call. Here it is out of sequence, but oh so relevant to the week I had. 

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This was a week. A f-ckin WEEK. My whole group (9 of us) minus our supervisors (phew) took a 2 day Emotional Intelligence training. It was trigger-iffic for me, the girl who is decidedly uncomfortable discussing emotions with anyone outside the tiny circle I let in. 

The day after that class was the talk with Stretch Guy. The one Therapist told me I needed to have given how I was reacting to this specific body work. Let me walk you through my morning. First, I didn't sleep well at all. Then, I dragged my ass to the gym and worked out really tired and became nauseous. While attempting to telework, about 9am, the anxiety really kicked in. By 9:30am I couldn't think. By 10:30am I was ready to throw up. I drove to the office a giant vibrating ball of anxiety and fear. All kinds of fear. The fear that makes you not want to put one foot in front of the other. I was a few minutes early and waited outside picking at my nails until the client ahead of me left. His dog came out to greet me at one point and I distractedly petted him trying to calm down. 

When I walked into the room, I couldn't look at him because I was too worked up, too scared. I managed to get out my rehearsed sentence, this type of work is affecting me emotionally. His first question, was what's happening? I answered it's making me cry and I feel weird and awkward.  His second question: Is it me or the work? Because if you're uncomfortable with me, I'm happy to help you find another stretch therapist. No, it's not you, its the work. And then began reassurance; It's normal, it happens all the time and I see all kinds of reactions, this is a vulnerable position for you to be in, opening up the body can make emotions rise. Do you want to continue working with me, because I'm happy to help you find another therapist. What is the emotion? 

Sadness.  

After being given permission to let go, I did it. And because I wasn't fighting the urge to cry, I figured out what triggers the crying. There's a stretch to open the shoulder that involves repetitive motion with the therapist against the body. I'm turned away, my arm is in a bind and he's sitting against me to get leverage. It feels like being rocked like a baby. Tears started leaking out of my eyes. My brain? It went straight to "daddy"

Holy shit.  

I fucking have daddy issues. No wonder, right? The dad who I was taken from/abandoned by, and the dad who took his place. I don't think I attached to either one. 

I still bawled in my car after, but didn't feel as weird about it, and the rest of my day was really difficult. The next day the phone call came blowing my entire week out of the water.  

In talking with therapist at my next appointment, conveniently scheduled a few days after the session and subsequent phone call, I wondered if I went to daddy because he's a male therapist. If it was a female therapist would it be mom? Her take was maybe not as I have an attachment to my mom even though it's ambivalent. I don't seem to have an attachment to my dad much at all. Could I really be going all the way back to infanthood? She posited that yeah, it could be infanthood. 

The timing of all of this is insane. I never believed in everything happens for a reason, preferring to believe that everything is a coincidence. That I started working with stretch guy a few months prior to this phone call and these emotions started surfacing? It is the weirdest of coincidences that I've ever experienced. 

Shock

I tried to have a normal Saturday. Until I told a friend of mine as we started on the March for Science what had transpired yesterday afternoon.  

It's been a day of thinking I can keep it together enough to call my uncle B to sobbing uncontrollably as I try to drive to Trader Joe's. And then marveling over the timing of it all. 

I Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Hum-Drum Friday with News

Today, after lunch, when I was sitting down to address a couple of e-mails, my work phone rang. It was number I'm not familiar with, but I don't always recognize area codes, and I figured it was a headhunter or something.


This is Geochick

Geochick! This is your Uncle B!!

Who?

Your Uncle B!, You know, I'm J's brother.

Uh, I'm sorry, I don't think I have an Uncle B or J, do you have the right number?

Yeah, your name is Geochick, right?  Your mom is Sally Someone, and your dad is Davey Dolittle.

WHAT!?

Oh my God, I'm going to kill J, I thought he already contacted you.

How did you find me?

We've always wondered how you and your brother were doing....


Dear readers, I've been found by the other half of my family.

 

p.s. Kind of a tough call to get at work.

Fas.cial Stretch Therapy and Emotions?

I hadn't heard of this type of bodywork until I started working out a new gym and totally jacked up my upper back and neck. For about 2 months, I would get slightly better, then try upper body work again and backslide into pain. It was a time of not being able to sleep, not being able to turn my head, and my tried and true Act.ive Rel.ease Ther.apy (A.R.T) chiropractor not being able to make it better. Enter a suggestion to try Fasc.ial Str.etch The.rapy (F.S.T) in conjunction with the ART, so I gave it a go. Here's the upshot: yes, it's helpful, yes it worked when I did both of those things together, and yes I definitely need it. But it also seems to be tapping into something else.

Quick explanation - F.S.T is basically assisted stretching that's done on a massage table fully clothed. Generally it's pretty gentle (unless you're really tight, then it can get uncomfortable like deep massage can), and that's about it. It's also, in my opinion, way more intimate than massage. Are you thinking, how can being naked be less intimate than fully clothed? Well, the practitioner in F.S.T uses their body to assist in the stretching. It's all touching, bracing, and repeated movements to put traction on joints. 

Several sessions in of F.S.T and several things start happening:

  • At first, I'm happy with the results and the way it feels after I'm done with the sessions. Generally I feel lighter, kind of like after a massage.
  • But then...I start getting nervous around the stretch guy for no good reason.
  • Stretch guy keeps saying I'm holding a lot of stress and recommends I see an integrative-type practitioner who does work on the mind-boy connection. (blah blah blah, everyone says that to me and I tell him it's not stress dammit, I just have tight muscles)
  • I have nightmares (this was in the thick of trying to get my muscles to release and when I wasn't sleeping well).
  • On two occasions I almost cry on the table, but manage to make it to my car before completely breaking down into sobs. I feel overwhelmed and sad and maybe guilty. 
  • I fall down a rabbit hole of Go.ogle because WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON 
  • I start to psychoanalyze myself (yeah, based on interwebs), learn a new concept (Transference) and it gets more confusing. Is it emotion being brought up by the bodywork, is it shame that he's touching me in ways that no one ever has? Am I transferring my emotional crap to him and making him play a part, or am I just making shit up in my head?

...and then I see Therapist and got around to the fact that I don't like to be touched by other people. S and my kids are the exception. I don't like to be touched by my parents, and until the past several years as an adult, my mom never wanted to hug me goodbye. She tried to do it regularly for a while and I hated it. So, let's get to attachment issues! The stretch is gentle and rhythmic and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. I don't think I'm in touch with that part of my nervous system very often. I'm the person who will lie in savasana in a yoga class and either make lists in my head, or try to coach myself into relaxing. I don't hug my friends goodbye unless everyone else is doing it, and once when a guy friend gave me a quick hug I thought he was nuts. The more I learn about myself, the more I'm amazed I ever managed to have a healthy relationship. The exception to the rule is S. It always is. We are tactile, we snuggle every night, we kiss and hug in front of our kids frequently. In fact, we do it enough that X has started initiating family hugs when he sees us hugging. That NEVER happened in my family growing up. When it comes down to it, I don't have any memories in the forefront of my mind of my parents touching me in a gentle and loving way. I remember the yelling, the spankings, and generally feeling like I did something wrong. So, the only guy who touches me a lot is S. And now I have this other guy touching me in a gentle way that I only recognize as a way that a spouse should touch me. Confusion? Fear? Sadness? Check, check and check.   

So, I have homework to do when I feel up to it. I am to make another appointment with stretch guy, tell him that I'm having an emotional reaction to this bodywork and see where it goes. Can you say vulnerable? I do not want to have this conversation, and I can't bring myself to make another appointment yet. The last appointment I had was one of the breakdowns, and not only that, but I walked into the office a giant ball of anxiety and felt weird and awkward the entire session. I couldn't relax, I didn't talk beyond the couple of minutes prior to starting and was pretty short with him. He didn't talk the whole session and I felt even weirder. Like, was my mood affecting him or was he just going with my black cloud attitude and figured I wasn't up for talking? Whatever it was, I got another little "take care of yourself" pep talk at the end. I don't really understand how people think I don't do take care of myself. I'm the mom who will take a day off work and both kids stay in daycare/afterschool care until their normal times. I escape from the house in the mornings because I can't stand the chaos of the morning routine. I go to the gym several days a week. I ride my bike. I travel and leave S to single-parent while I luxuriate in a solid 3-star hotel. What else am I supposed to do to "take care of me"?

Part of me wants to have this conversation.  I keep running through scenarios in my head trying to get ready for every reaction from him in order to be ready to protect myself, and that's exhausting.  Admitting that I'm afraid to cry when I'm in the middle of a session is the worst. Is that shame jabbing at me again? I don't want to be vulnerable with someone who is a stranger. Hell, I can't even be vulnerable with people I consider my girlfriends. ARGH, I don't know! I want to know, but I don't want to initiate this!  

In past times, this would be where I terminate the therapy (yep, totally have cut and run on therapists just when they are getting to the root of the issues). I feel like I'm trying to do that here. It's different because it isn't psychotherapy, but there's that emotional, vulnerable element that I don't want to admit to another person. 

 

Conferences, the Double Edged Sword

I have a love/hate relationship with conferences. On the one hand, a good way to network. On the other hand, I have to network?!!! fuck that.  

This one was especially fraught. Shit hitting the fan on a couple of my projects. Blowback from people who should know better. Whose. job am I supposed to do? Everyone's? 

I'm hiding for a little bit before the closing banquet. 

 

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The Fading Pain

X received a birthday card from S's aunt. This birthday card came in the same envelope with another birthday card.

S was confused for a minute, and turned to me kind of laughing. At first, I think he thought his aunt got Baby Z's birth date wrong.  Staring at the envelope with the name on it, it took a few seconds to sink in.

"Happy Birthday Axton."

Now, the realization that said aunt is totally clueless about our family could have hit me like a ton of bricks, but it didn't. Brick, by brick by brick, little by little I broke down.

1st reaction: You've gotta be kidding me.

2nd reaction: Is she that stupid?

3rd reaction: I need to sit down on the bed for a minute and then I can join the rest of the family for dinner.

4th reaction: Sobbing at the dinner table.

I was surprised at how hard it hit me, considering that I really don't think about Axton much. Every now and then, I come across pictures that I can't seem to delete from my computer and I wonder what he's like. At this point, 3 years removed from the failed placement, the acute pain has faded, yet, I can still be brought back to the phone call I received right after snuggling down in the couch for some kangaroo care and guilty pleasure TV on my first day of maternity leave.

It's like that for infertility too. When in the grips of infuriating cycles resulting in BFNs; invasive testing; invasive homestudies; long adoption waits; failed placement; failed match; it seems like nothing will ever feel the same again. It feels like the pain will haunt forever. Except that it doesn't. I wonder if everyone going through this experiences the same trajectory. It's just not at the forefront of my mind, and pregnant women elicit more of a 'gee they're lucky' response instead of the 'that fucking bitch has no idea how lucky she is response' I used to have. 

The biggest issue I have right now is wondering if I might magically get pregnant when I don't want to (S is a big fat chicken who won't make his appointment). I obsessively track my cycles hoping for a period to show up, and I don't think about infertility much....is what I was going to say until I realized that hoping for a period every month is an indication that I still have, and will always have emotional issues related to infertility until I hit menopause full bore. Obviously, I need to push S again on his OUTPATIENTNOBIGDEAL procedure because I'm afraid to get busy around ovulation. I haven't wanted to get pregnant after adoption, and even explored the idea, going so far as another R.E. consultation during our wait for Baby Z. Suffice to say, I have been deep into my own psyche trying to figure out if I really needed to be pregnant, but as I said when I first decided on adoption as a option, I wanted to be a parent more than I wanted to push a kid out. Funny how that now translates to the idea of a positive pregnancy test being the worst news ever. I'm 42, and have been off of birth control for almost 10 years at this point, never saw a positive pregnancy test and perhaps had one chemical pregnancy. Chances are slim to none that I'll ever get pregnant, but I still have a weird what if knocking around my head.

Since infertility I've also pushed my body harder than ever by participating in 100-mile bike rides, and most recently joining a gym that pushes me to the edge every single workout. It's like I do these things to remind myself that body still works despite not ever working in the most basic of ways.

The pain fades, but it never goes away.

 

 

 

 

The End of an Era

 

I officially resigned from Jazz.ercise.  I haven't had so much as an inkling to even take a class, it's like my brain has finally moved on. I tried quitting before, but that lasted less than year and I re-instated my franchise thinking I was refreshed and ready to teach forevermore....

Fast forward another 5 years, and I changed jobs, putting myself in an exhausting position at work that requires a lot of energy and more travel. When I tendered my resignation at the center last Fall, I don't think I thought I'd actually quit for real, but here it is. I did my last set of taxes for my business (in which I made a whopping $2k a year, but still have to pay taxes!) and I sold my microphone to a friend of mine when hers died. Now I need to trash all my notes and figure out what to do with all my routine DVDs. Maybe give them away to new instructors, maybe toss them in the trash. I'll have a half empty desk once I'm done with the purge. 

I don't feel much of anything, maybe a little sad, but at the same time, I think I worked through a lot of stuff these past few years of teaching. I always struggled feeling like I was a good instructor, and had a really hard time with the students who were constant critics, often forgetting to focus on the students who loved my classes. Over the last few years, I finally got to a point where I didn't care as much and I knew I was a good instructor. I was having fun teaching classes and not berating myself over missed cues or forgetting routines (yeah, it happens). I also started having chronic injury issues that were getting to be difficult to fix. The repetitive nature of what I was doing, and not being in a position to modify while leading the class seemed to be leading to chronic tightness that my chiro couldn't work through as easily. He started telling me a year ago to quit and find something else based on how many times I would have to see him with an acute pain, and then I got really sick a couple of times, including Influenza. Over and over, I heard, "you're doing too much, you need to get rid of something." It took a while to listen, but I finally did. 

Jazz.ercise is an experience that I'm grateful for. I'm glad I pushed myself to not only become an instructor, which was way outside my comfort zone, but that I stuck it through for 13 years. It helped me maintain my fitness, but it also helped me in my job. When I gave a technical talk last year at a conference, it was surprisingly void of nerves. I've never eschewed public speaking, but I've always done it under the cloud of stage fright complete with sweaty palms and shaking voice. Finally, that seems to have ebbed and I've gained a lot more confidence being in front of big groups. 

These days, I go to a gym where I'm swinging sledgehammers, jumping on boxes, lifting weights, and generally getting my ass kicked. I completed Project Management training and a Leadership class at work, and I'm starting to work on big changes in the way I do things to make a $200+ million project successful. Things are happening, and they're happening fast. It's the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. One in which I kick fitness and my career path into high gear with a new gym and a clear desire to reach the higher echelons of management in my organization.

Stay tuned....

Why am I the only brown person in this family?

I was reading the book Ron's Big Mission, a book that I, as a white woman, can't get through without the white tears spilling all over the damn place. The story is about a little boy who is black growing up in South Carolina in 1959 and the day he took a stand at his local library demanding that he be able to check out books.

The positive side of reading these kinds of age appropriate books to my kids is that it provides an opening to a dialogue. X has flirted with discussion about skin color, but hadn't expressed dismay over his skin color compared to the rest of his family and extended family. He did this particular night, and we had what I hope was a good talk about how it's different even though it shouldn't be, and how it will be hard for him. I pointed out his other friends who are the only POC in their families, and he pointed out that a black kid at his school doesn't have white parents.  I also pointed out that his therapist is an adoptee, like him, and she was adopted from India.  She will understand why he feels uncomfortable sometimes and that he can talk to her about it as much as he wants. He can tell us all his big feelings too, and we'll do the best we can to help him.

The moment that I've been dreading as a parent has come, and whether I should have or not, I admitted that maybe Mommy and Daddy made a mistake when we adopted Baby Z. That maybe we should have waited longer for a baby who had brown skin like X so that he wouldn't feel so alone in our family. I don't know how that will ultimately play out, if X will resent Baby Z, or if admitting that was the right thing to do. I rationalized the placement by thinking, well, we've been waiting for almost 2 years and we've now been matched with 3 white boys despite our openness to race. I guess we can navigate this, because lots of other families do whether one kid is lighter skinned than the other, or whether there are multiple children of different races in the family. On the other hand, I know families that draw that line and say, my kids need other kids who look like them in the family. I don't know why I didn't draw the line, but I admit it was selfish to just want to be done with the process instead of being a forward thinker to years down the road. 

If I begin to think about the fact that we were open to adopting a baby of a different race to us in the first place, I begin to wonder if that was a good decision. When we were going through the process the first time, it was made abundantly clear to us that if we wanted to adopt a white baby, we'd be waiting a very long time. Considering it took 2 years of waiting to be matched with X, it's hard to think about waiting even longer. We were naive when it came to race relations today and we've both been woke to how far there is to go, especially in today's political climate. I'd say that despite the adoption agency we worked with being pretty good in terms of preparation for the realities of adoption trauma even in infants, they miss the mark on adopting children of a different race. I don't know that it would have changed anything for us given the length of both of our adoption waits, and in X's case, he likely would have been adopted by a white family because that's the harsh reality of adoption. White people typically have the means to pay for expensive adoptions. Adoption is inherently racist, taking brown kids from brown families and putting them into white families because we theoretically are better. I call bullshit. We aren't better, we have the upper hand when it comes to everything.