Whole30 - Let's Do This

I’m finally jumping on the Whole30 bandwagon after so many years of thinking it would be too difficult given my lifestyle and high activity levels. A few things have made me change my mind however, and I’m starting on this day 1 with a more healthy mindset than I would have a few years ago.

  • This is an elimination diet, not a lifestyle. I’m doing it to see if I have sensitivities that I’m not aware of because they’re subtle. For example, my skin is itchy more often than not…is that Colorado dryness or something else?

  • I need to push reset on alcohol. My consumption is moderate-heavy (about 10/week) and every time I’ve tried to reduce, I’ve failed after a couple weeks. I know I use alcohol to cope with stress and while I’m not an alcoholic, it’s time to find healthier ways to cope.

  • I want to be aware of my emotional eating triggers. Like alcohol, I know there’s certain stressors that tend to derail my best laid plans.

  • I want to learn how to eat more whole foods for breakfast and lunch. I do really well at dinner, mostly cooking in a paleo-style but completely fall flat the rest of the day.

  • And, of course, there’s the weight thing. I’m tied for my all time high weight at the moment and would like to get rid of some of that. The re-entry is where it’s going to be difficult so I’m going to look into nutrition coaching at Bite Nutrition to help post Whole30. I love the free resources they have and have learned a lot, but I think I’ll need some one-on-one.

  • I’m finally in a space with therapy where I’ve felt a big shift from digging up all my trauma and processing it to working on finding me. Sounds pretty "OMG I’m so needing to find myself” (said in a valley-girl accent), but yeah, it’s true. I now have the mental energy to focus on planning/prepping food.

I intend to update weekly here and have an accountability post going over on the Bite Nutrition FB group if you a) wanna see what my real name is and b) are interested in checking them out!

Here we go!

So far on day 1, I noticed after reading some other accounts that eating enough food can be tough so I’ll be using MFP to track calories making sure I’m hitting 1800 a day on average. The plan for me is to have 3 500-cal meals with a 300-cal snack (or split up around intense workouts).

p.s. I accidentally hit Publish on my last post and noticed that once I finished editing that the previous version is showing up in Feedly. So, if you use a reader for my posts, pretty please click through that one, cuz you didn’t get it all!

Spiritual Awakening and a Word for 2019

Let’s just call this what it is, shall we?

I, Geochick, both feet firmly on the ground, thinking, analytical, judgement oriented “doer” in life is going through a spiritual awakening, a transformation challenging everything I’ve ever been taught and internalized.

You guys, I voluntarily listened to over 4 hours of a woman who purportedly channels a group of non-physical beings spout off about the laws of the Universe. Granted, I spent quite a few of those 4 hours trying to figure out if she was faking her curiously Eastern European-esque accent and completely bonkers grammar, but I listened to the whole thing.

I’m going to my second Gong Bath and taking S with me. Last week, SG gave me a smudging when I showed up for stretch in a mood and I felt lightheaded and more relaxed after the clearing.

What has happened to Geochick? Are we in bizarro-world?

My head was spinning after walking out of a therapy appointment where once again, I was focused on SG and my anxiety surrounding my relationship with him. He’s been a focus for about a month and she was curious why. I have been more anxious again when it comes to him, because I’m growing closer to him and that is super scary. Even SG has asked me how I was able to let S in, and similar to my response to Therapist #1 when she asked me the same question all those years ago, I don’t know. Therapist #3 has some thoughts, like S and I are cut from the same cloth and with my avoidant attachment style, it didn’t really feel that scary to open up. It was difficult, but I wanted to be with him, so I pushed through. It took a long time before the two of us were having really deep feeling conversations given our similarities. We had them and we still do, but it was more of a natural progression of our relationship. With SG, it’s completely opposite, and I’ve felt like he’s often dragging me along while I throw tantrums like a toddler (or our Prez). After some talk with Therapist #3 she pointed out that in getting close to SG, I’m freaking out because I’m fighting my survival instinct. Attachment is survival, and for me that means keeping everyone away because it’s not safe. The fact that I’m fighting against it by letting SG literally provide a shoulder to cry on is apparently positive. She says I’m rewiring my brain (as much as you can rewire it at 44) so that I can be more open with people in general, and she gives me encouragement to continue opening up to him. Part of that opening up came with a suggestion to talk to him about boundaries. I don’t really know where mine are because I’m trying to break down the armor, and I don’t know where his are because it feels like he’s waiting for me to draw the line somewhere. I tried to talk about it a little at my last appointment with SG, but man, that’s an impossible task. I got as far as making some noise about attachment issues and such without coming out and saying it. I had to put it in an e-mail later and I ripped the bandaid off with “when it comes to some of my attachment issues, you’re in the bullseye.” I didn’t hear back from him for several days, which then threw me into more anxiety. Five days into the anxiety, Therapist #3 walked me through a “what is the story you’re telling yourself and what are the other stories that could actually be happening?”  exercise, which calmed me down. The story I always tell myself is “welp, scared him away this time” when reality has showed the opposite again and again.

Which brings me back to spiritual awakening. Early on in my renewed interest in yoga, during a shavasana, I had a vision. I don’t use that word lightly, because I never experienced anything as profound as this. The vision was orange light, like a setting sun, I was standing facing the light with S on one side and SG on the other, holding their hands. I felt warm, calm, loved and supported. I was kind of shocked when the teacher brought us out of it and had a pretty good cry fest along with “what was that????” on the way home. Since then, there hasn’t been as an intense experience, but that vision is what I think I’ve been holding onto to help me combat my instinct to run.

Another revelation, SG suggested I listen to the Law of Attraction after he had listened to it for the first time. I mentioned it laughingly to Therapist #3 and she revealed how long she’s been following Esther Hicks, telling me it’s not something she brings up often given the woo-woo nature of the whole thing. She also laughed that I’m the last person she would have thought to present the concept to. My 2 favorite yoga teachers are most definitely into the woo-woo spirituality world, and I crave their classes. My network chiropractor has mentioned the energy connection to me more than once so guess which side of the spectrum he’s on. I have surrounded myself with 5 people who all embody a spirituality that I’ve been taught is “wrong”. And way back when… Therapist #1 once told me that she absolutely believes everything happens for a reason and I remember sitting in her office thinking, “really? seems all coincidental to me”

As I explore more of what it means to be me, I chose a word to carry through 2019:

Curiosity





 

#Microblog Mondays - Reflections on a Year

This definitely feels like a year to reflect on given all that I’ve been going through emotionally. Here’s the rundown:

  • Jan 1, 2018 I started the New Year with a wicked case of Strep Throat. blah.

  • In February, I jacked my neck and back worse than it’s ever been before. I couldn’t turn my head, could barely drive and had to travel for work. It took several physical therapy sessions, chiropractic and stretch to get it back to semi-normal.

  • After said neck jacking, Stretch Guy (heretofore to be known as SG), took the opportunity to push me harder to see this network chiropractor guy he knew. I’ll never forget SG asking me “Do you trust me?” I stared. “A little? 20%?”. I relented.

  • In March, I started network chiropractic 3x a week combining it with therapy once a week. After a month I added stretch back into the mix. Whoa. Where’s the time to work? We also took a big family vacation to France, the first of what I hope to be many adventures. It was fun, difficult, and exciting. I fell into depression partly because I was trying to reduce my celexa. Bad idea. I went back up to a full dose. In the starting stages of EMDR, I had to deal with a 360 degree review at work in which I was roundly attacked by a few people. They presented to me an image that I hated.

  • In April, SG offered the beginning of several things that pushed and pulled at me in different ways. An invitation to check out PSI was extended because he had completed a 3 day training, and was really excited about it. I freaked the fuck out, had the almost-firing talk with him and learned that he truly was offering this because it helped him and he wanted to help me. It led to me questioning why I was so resistant to letting him help me.

  • May was a blur of work, travel and struggling through all the therapies. EMDR was intense.

  • June found me traveling to Boston to meet my biological uncles. It was a strange trip for me and I was happy to have my brother with me to be the curious one. I mostly shut down my emotions just trying to get through it.

  • In July, struggling to make sense of the trauma coming up in EMDR and the emotions surrounding my visit to Boston, I shattered. For the first time, I reached out to SG for support outside his office and he was right there offering an ear. I couldn’t deal with my parents and a decision was made to put them on hold until September. I didn’t communicate that to them, instead just tried to fend off my mom’s inquiries.

  • In August, I finished EMDR and got shingles three days before my 100 mile bike ride I had been training for the whole season. I tried and succeeded in completing 73 of the 100 while the rest of my group finished the whole thing. I also had a fun and supportive email exchange with SG while I was hanging out waiting for S and the kids to show up at the finish line festival. One of many tiny steps toward accepting his help and support. I also had another work breakdown where after all the work I had been doing, I felt blindsided by negative feedback from a team member and my superior. After much introspection, I changed my outlook and requested to work part-time. It was the first time in my 20-year career that I made a decision for me instead of working towards pleasing a boss, or achieving a promotion.

  • September was Baby A’s birthday and we invited my parents. My dad ignored me and S and my mom acted weird. I felt emotionally strong enough to have a conversation with my mom that revealed some things and also showed me that right now, it isn’t enough.

  • In October I cut off communication with my parents. I also felt a shift to starting a transformation. I reached out to SG asking for more support and that was really hard to do, yet I knew I needed to lean on him. He happily responded and it signaled another shift in our relationship. I started working part time, and it wasn’t the super relaxing schedule I hoped it would be.

  • In November, I found the source of anxiety surrounding SG. More growth, more vulnerability, and more sharing. He shared that he himself got to a point where he almost fired me as a client. Growth on both sides! We both pushed through our respective crap to be able to support each other. I attended Soul Speaks.

  • In December, I finally caved and attended a PSI informational meeting with my therapist’s blessing. I had an anxiety attack, SG was supportive through it, and I realized I need to be doing shit that scares me the most. So I signed up for the 3 day training in February. We had our Christmas the way we wanted it and it was fun and relaxing.

Wow. What a year!

My Husband, the Unicorn

I don’t write about S a lot on here, and that’s mostly because it’s a whole lot easier to dive into my insecurities, anxiety, and depression. Writing is a way to process everything that’s been happening to me, and I don’t have anxiety or insecurity when it comes to S. That doesn’t mean I’m shut down with him as I work through all this stuff, it’s more that he’s the rock that supports me. It would have been so easy for him to be jealous of Stretch Guy, but he hasn’t let it get to him.  I’ve shared what Stretch Guy and I talk about and in the context of similar experiences, S completely understands why I need someone like this in my life. S is support and understanding, but we are so alike that he doesn’t know what to say or do, and he reacts similarly as me towards feelings and intuition. We’re both introverted thinkers and sensors, not particularly in touch with feelings and intuition. Two of the reasons why we work so well together is because of our similar personality types, and S is exceedingly patient. He was patient when we started dating and I freaked out 5 dates in then dumped him. He was patient as I fought through my jealousy towards two other women he has platonic friendships with, and he really didn’t need to be (there were a few fights stemming from my insecurity). He was patient as I worked through having vulvodynia in the early years of our marriage (that kills your sex life btw) and then the infertility bullsh*t that followed.  He is patient through all the problems that have come up with my family, letting me rant and rave as I began to be less and less willing to please my mother. And, to top it off, he is patient and supportive as I have done 3 therapeutic modalities together (therapy, network chiropractic and FST) spending a lot of time and money on myself.

Because I find it much easier to spew all the strong emotions, it’s almost as if I have writer’s block when it comes to S. I mean, how many ways can I say that he’s one of the strongest and secure men I’ve ever met? He’s constantly giving me the space I need to work through all of this crap, and sometimes that’s meant I need to crash in bed in the middle of day from mental exhaustion and depression while he tries to wrangle the very active boys we have.  On top of that, we have a pretty equitable husband/wife relationship and for that, I’m grateful. I carry a lot of  the cruise ship director work of the household (schedules and registering kids for school and activities, planning vacations, grocery shopping, clothes shopping, house shopping….), so it’s not even, but I can leave the house on a Monday, fly to some other city and not have to worry what he’s going to feed them for dinner. I can plan a night or day out riding with friends and not feel guilty that I’m sticking him with the kids. (one issue I have is that he doesn’t have too many friends, so I keep trying to push him to reach out a bit more). He does all the laundry, will do dishes without thinking about it, and cooks when I’m not around. Some of our roles are pretty gender specific too, he takes care of the little handyman stuff ‘cuz I don’t want to do it, plus the outside like mowing the grass ‘cuz again…I don’t want to do it. When we got married, I handed him the checkbook and said, “here, you do it”. I have Mint, so I’m tracking budgets, but I don’t have to do the bill-paying. We take turns putting the kids to bed so that the other person can you know…do the damn dishes! ha.

I consider myself lucky to have found such a loving and supportive partner in life. 

 

A Different Kind of Christmas

I did it. I successfully had the Christmas that I wanted. Quiet, just my family, no drama.

My mother has not taken to my boundary very well, and despite me letting her know in October that I wanted the holidays to be with my family only, citing that I’m on a healing journey and I need to do this for myself, she’s been pushing. About every 3 weeks, there’s something. First, on Halloween, she texted S asking for pictures of the boys and if they could watch them sometime. He didn’t reply. Then about mid-November, she sent me an e-mail asking about us bringing the boys over or all of us coming over for an early Thanksgiving meal. I wrote her back, again acknowledging it may be hard for her and it’s hard for me too, but that even though I tried not to get to this point, ultimately I did and this is how it is. A week before Christmas, she sent me a text asking if I want to get coffee “after the holidays”. I blocked her. Also, S has set up a weekend in January to bring the boys over to their house (leaving me out of the equation…he’s awesome).

Each time these have come, it’s helped to strengthen my resolve to do things my way. Clearly, she can’t respect a very clear boundary that’s been set. I think a reasonable person could understand that. Oh, wait, a reasonable person has healthy boundaries, she does not.

So, with all that swirling in the background, we carried on. We went to the mountains for 3 nights to go skiing and relax. Well, relax’ish because ages 4 and 7 aren’t exactly relaxing types of ages. There was a lot of movie watching! We had a great time skiing, and came home Christmas Eve. I ran to the store in the thick of the madness to grab a few things for our Christmas dinner and then we spent the afternoon unpacking and getting ready for Christmas.

Oh, I should probably mention here that X was asking so many pointed questions about ol’ Santa, that I decided to take care of the myth. A was also involved in the conversation and well, I’m pretty unsentimental about the whole thing. Friends of mine are somewhat aghast that I would not make the 7 year old play along, but they don’t know my kid. In the 4 tendencies, I’m seeing him as a Rebel. The kid doesn’t do anything unless it makes sense to him, and since I’m an Obliger I have a really hard time coming up with ideas to entice him. I was on the fence about whether we should play Santa from the beginning, so it’s somewhat of a relief that it’s over. Now the Elf on the Shelf? He actually had a more difficult time with that…anyway, we carried on with the Elf for the fun of it. Maybe he’ll make an appearance next year since it’s kind of fun for us too.

Christmas morning we were able to sleep all the way to 6:20!!! That’s like sleeping in on Christmas! They opened gifts (done well before 7am of course) and we set upon our lazy day of nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was so relaxing. I made a big breakfast, and we just kind of kicked around the house. S and I finally got our gym together in the basement, which involved taking over what was the kids’ playroom (they’ll get the smaller room now) and purging some toys. Again, movies man, best thing when you’re trying to sneak their toys for donation out of the house in a giant trash bag. In the late afternoon, we prepped for our dinner of fondue, had a relatively relaxing fondue dinner experience. X didn’t eat, instead he read his newest Dog Man book at the table (:/) and A was pretty into the whole fondue thing so that was cool. We didn’t end up making it to dessert as they were really tired by the time dinner finished, and X insisted on us playing Twister for a little bit. So not fun on a full stomach and wine (or hilarious, depends on your outlook). After getting them to bed, we attempted to stay up to watch A Christmas Story, which lasted about 45 minutes before we passed out too.

Uneventful. Peaceful. Relaxing.

How it should be.

#MicroblogMondays - On Yoga

Way back in my infertility/adoption waiting days I attempted to get into yoga. There was a great studio near my house where all the teachers embraced the spiritual as well as the physical practice, and while it made me uncomfortable (all that spiritual stuff), I somehow knew it was something I needed. So, I went there regularly, sometimes mixing it up with Co.re Po.wer which was, to me, purely about the physical aspects, almost like going to a gym.

It lasted a couple years, Baby X came along and I started learning about cultural appropriation. I balked, stopped going to yoga and did other things instead.

Over the past several months, I’ve gotten back into the practice, and not just the physical practice. As I continue on my spiritual awakening, broadening my horizons, being open to new ideas, I’ve come to realize that there is a difference between straight up cultural appropriation and approaching the practice with respect. I’ve found two yoga teachers who approach the practice with respect and lean into teaching those of us in our class about the spiritual side, setting intentions, learning to love ourselves so we can love and serve others.

I know we are skipping over the religion aspect in that yoga is directly related to Hinduism, and I don’t know how to reconcile that. I don’t like religion. I don’t believe there’s a G.od. I have finally come around to the idea that I’m firmly at.heist. At.heist with a broadening belief that the Universe itself is comprised of energy (it is…scientifically speaking) that connects and draws us together.

So, if I don’t practice or believe in the religion which originated yoga, do I have any right to be one of the millions of middle-aged white women practicing it?

I think so? I think it’s ok for me to embrace the spiritual side of yoga and meditation, learning about myself in order to be able to show up in the world and be a positive influence and a leader. I’m not sure I’ll ever not cringe at walking into someone’s home and seeing representations of religions they don’t necessarily practice. I’m quite sure that people who are not Orth.odox Chris.tian (how I was raised) put up Icons in their houses, so it makes me uncomfortable to see a Bud.dha or Gan.esha in someone’s space. I may get better at asking the questions to draw out why they have them, trying to let go of my judgement.

Is that ok?

 

Don’t know what #microblogmondays is? Check it out here.

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p.s. I signed up for p.s.i seminar in February. Holy crap. 😬 

Panic

I went to the informational meeting from my last blog post. Let me paint a picture for you:

11:30am - Stretch Guy texts me to see if I’m going

12:30pm - I text back with a lovely bitmoji of pure anxiety and confirm

12:30pm - 4:00pm - A few texts w/ Stretch Guy as he tried to reassure me. A phone call with S who goes to the website and doesn’t see anything concerning to him. A short discussion with my supervisor about the possibility of this counting as leadership training. He’s on board, btw, others have done similar type training and it totally falls in line with where I tend to have weakness (relating to others).

4:00pm-6:15pm - Finish up work, drive over the hotel and wonder what the hell Wa.ze was thinking as it took me further south than I needed to go. Lame. Feel nervous but not too bad and wonder why I’m feeling nervous because I have the support of no less than 4 people who are close or know me well.

6:15pm - Get to hotel, park the car, find the ballroom where it’s being held and walk right past the talking, laughing group, down the hall, turn the corner and think, ‘oh, shit that’s them’. I approach, a friendly person asks me if I’m here for psi. I give a curt, “yeah”. By now I’m starting to shake. I find the registration table, sign in, and a nice lady I am just barely able to make eye contact with hands me my nametag. I take the nametag, slap it on under my jacket and promptly take a seat on a chair in the corner of the vestibule to the ballroom and nervously pretend to check email while I scan the group for Stretch Guy. After about 2 minutes, I have to move again, I get up, stomach clenching and wander away from the crowd, continuing to try to hide. Stretch Guy shows up, finds me and comes up to me with a big smile. “Hey, how are you?” (hug). “Not good”. “What’s going on?” “I…I..don’t know, I want to run.” “Do you want to meet some people?” “No.” “Do you want some water?” “No.” All the no’s said as I stand there with my hands cold as ice, my heart pounding, my ears ringing, tunnel vision…I feel completely disconnected from the body standing there talking to him. “Ok, want to go in and sit down?” “Ok”.

I follow him into the room, and he jokes, “sit wherever you want!” as most of the chairs haven't been claimed yet. I say, “uh, where can I hide?” He chooses a back corner and as we settle into the chairs that are way too close together (on purpose I find out) and sit down, people start streaming into the room to take their seats. He’s quickly surrounded by people seeking him out, clearly the people who he wanted to introduce me to and I’m sitting in my chair, head down, frozen. I pull out my notebook and write how I’m feeling. I try to breathe. I don’t make eye contact and just let the talking and joking float around me. Stretch Guy doesn’t forget about me, he remains reassuring and lets me sit there with no pressure to be introduced.

The presentation starts, and I decide I need to write down my thoughts and reactions so I can try to work through whatever THIS is that’s going on in my body. My reactions as they start talking: “sheep, they’re all sheep”. Next, “i’m being critical, why?” “what am I scared of?”. They pull up the graduates (honestly, “graduates” for a 3 day seminar? whatevs) and a few talk about their experience. It all seems genuine, the presenter seems genuine, and none of it is anything I’ve not been working on or different than I’ve heard before from other trainings (quite similar to Emotional Intelligence training actually)

I try to listen, a few things make me smile, especially when the presenter talks about how when he took this 3-day course way back when, he noticed that his mother, whom he had a strained relationship with “changed”. The point? He changed and was able to see her differently. I write down what I don’t want to be: (someone I work with, my mom…) I start to write down what I want to be in my career (leader, why? middle management isn’t enough, I want to change the culture, I want to develop people). A few times, Stretch Guy smirks at me, knocks my knee, puts his hand on my back reassuringly as I sit in squirmy discomfort. We joke a little bit back and forth.

The presentation is over, the predicted (I was prepared for this by Stretch Guy), push to sign up is brought forth. Stretch Guy doesn’t push me, he’s already gotten blowback from me, and he’s learned. He wants to know how I feel. I tell him that what he saw in the beginning from me was pretty damn close to a panic attack. I’ve never had a completely debilitating panic attack, but what I experienced here, has occurred more than once over my lifetime, and usually is around social situations where I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself. By the end of the presentation I had identified where my initial “sheep, they’re all sheep” reaction came from. My parents. My dad specifically, who would scoff at anything like this, any organization. He wasn’t too happy when I joined a sorority in college. My mom would follow suit, or at least not contradict the idea that anytime you are presented with someone like this, it’s a scam/cult/pyramid scheme someone is just trying to profit off of suckers. “Just be yourself” is what my dad would always say. But, I was conditioned to NOT be myself. So, how do I know how to be myself if I’m always performing?

I don’t.

Why do we condemn these organizations? P.S.I isn’t the only one. There’s Ton.y Rob.bins (whom I don’t particularly like), there’s another one called Lan.dmark, and there’s even one that looks pretty similar to this that my organization sends supervisors to for training.

I realized sitting there in the ballroom that my panic and discomfort were coming from the idea that I want to change but this “sheep” idea is so deeply rooted in my being that it’s causing massive conflict in me. I tell Stretch Guy that one thing I’ve learned over the past year and a half is that the things that scare me the most, are the things I’m supposed to do. This class terrifies me in a way that I can’t articulate. I can’t explain why, even in identifying the root cause why I have spiraled into panic. All I know, is I need to do this because I panicked.

I haven’t signed up yet, but I am talking to my supervisor and I know I’m going to do it. S is completely supportive and even seems a little excited for me. He also knows he’s next if this ends up being a good experience for me. ;-) My therapist is in and super excited that I’m even considering it. What I heard at the presentation was reasonable and transparent enough to make me comfortable with the idea of going through with it. I brought up the cult thing with Stretch Guy and said, “Ok, it’s not a cult. My therapist is the one who told me that”. He was happy to hear that, but then I was like, you know there’s also cult-like…and he admitted seeing that in some people. I personally, haven’t witnessed him do anything or say anything that gives me concern. Plus, long before he started this, he was available, holding space and supporting me even though I was rejecting the support.

I’m still feeling anxious and slightly panick-y even though I’ve made my decision that I am going to be doing this in the relatively near future…good thing I have a therapy appointment on Monday.

#MicroblogMondays - Resistance is

futile.

It took less than a year for Stretch Guy to get me here:

psi.jpg

Remember this post? It was all about how I completely went off the deep end thinking he joined a cult and was trying to recruit me and I almost fired him over it. Oh wait, I didn’t share all of that at the time…Yup. Since then there’s been more EMDR, intensive therapy, sharing, growing, letting him support me, hearing his experience, him joking that he’s going to get me there…me resisting, resisting, and more resisting. Since I’ve acknowledged I need more support and help from him through all this healing stuff, and he’s been right about everything else so far…I’ve finally agreed to go to the presentation. Therapist #3 is completely on board. She got so excited I thought she might get up and do a happy dance right in front of me.

sigh

Bring it.

Don’t know what #MicroblogMondays is? Check it out  here

Don’t know what #MicroblogMondays is? Check it out here

Soul Speaks aka. Geochick Learns to Connect

Words of essence:


Bold Brave Graceful Precious Endearing Honest Beautiful

Tenderhearted Courageous Dear Honest Loving Aware

Selfless Resilient Kind Generous Inspiring Open


This introverted thinking sensing judging engineer walks into a Soul Speaks workshop.

Waiting for a punchline?

I wish I could come up with one, but I’m not a comedienne. Well, not intentionally.

I took this workshop as a challenge to myself, as a minor investment in time and money to see what the next leap into personal development holds and deep dive into the core of my being.  I knew it would make me squirmy and uncomfortable. I also knew that all my personal shit is so forefront in my mind that I was liable to share too much and risk a vulnerability hangover. I was right on both counts.

Two women run this workshop and to describe them to me Stretch Guy (yes, this is one of his pushes/suggestions) used words like loving and powerful. He told me I’d feel safe. I just stared at him wondering how these words like loving and powerful fall so easily from his lips. I never use those words. I’ve just now begun to understand what “grateful” means and been able to use it without sarcasm. I’m constantly in awe of how these other strong feeling words are so natural to Stretch Guy, and how they never seem contrived. But I digress…

 I walked into the room and Soul Speaks teacher #1, whom I talked to on the phone glided up to me with a huge smile on her face, “I’m so glad you came!” with a big hug. Yikes. Then I discovered that most people a) knew Soul Speaks teacher #1 because she’s their therapist, or they had been doing these workshops for a while. I was the outsider on both counts. Immediately, I felt the armor come up, protecting me, enshrouding me. I wanted to be small, not noticed. A couple of people introduced themselves and asked how I knew about the workshop. “A friend recommended it to me.” “Are you excited?” “No. I’m really nervous.” During the whole opening of the workshop, I stared at the floor, at the wall, anywhere but at the teachers. Then, they explained what we would be doing. It’s called relational presencing and it boils down to eye contact; a breath, a soft gaze and holding another person’s eye contact.

 So anyway, it was a really difficult and exhausting 4 hours for me, and at the same time empowering. I know that I need to do things like this to force me outside my comfort zone and to learn how to connect with people. I didn’t know what to expect, Stretch Guy didn’t really prepare me for it, and when I talked to one of the teachers about it she tried to explain, but for such a simple thing, it’s a difficult concept.

 They start small, just take a breath, look into someone’s eyes for 30 seconds and don’t say anything, don’t break eye contact. That was the longest 30 seconds! Then we did it again and it wasn’t as difficult. Then we did it again and took turns talking, whatever comes up without thinking. Then we got in groups of five, sitting in a circle and took turns around the circle. The key is trying not to break eye contact while talking and move your gaze from one person to another about every sentence or so, and I found it easier in a larger group where I didn’t have to hold eye contact with one person as long. THEN, a bigger group, the room split in half and half went to another room. We did the same thing in front of the half group adding in a few steps. At the end of us talking without thinking for a whole minute while holding people’s gaze, the people in the room would shout out words that they see you embody as you stand there. And the grand finale, the entire group together and random names being called up to practice. The words I wrote down at the beginning are all the words people threw out at me as I stood in front of them scared, tears streaming down my face and wondering what the hell I just said. The things people say when in front of the group run the gamut from, “I don’t really feel like talking so I’m going to be quiet and just connect with all of you, to I’ve been doing x,y,z this past year, to isn’t this amazing all this energy in the room,” to people like me, who have all this heavy shit front and center that just comes out. The two times I was in front of the big group, I wished I could say something positive, and I guess some positive things were said about healing, at the same time it’s all shrouded in “hey my mom’s a narcissist and now I’m trying to figure out who I am”.

By the end of the 4 hours, someone commented on how much my demeanor had changed from when I first talked to people and the end of the day. She was right, I felt more relaxed and I was able to focus on the people talking rather than my shit because I was actually seeing them. That’s got to be one of the things that I have trouble with the most. I don’t see people because I’m so wrapped up in how I appear to them, if I’m acting the way they want and taking it personally if someone comments on my demeanor. This time I was able to accept and acknowledge someone telling me that they saw a positive shift instead of falling down the shame spiral of what the hell did I look like before? Is she telling me I was a total bitch to start with and now I’m ok? This is a big shift for me to feel kind of comfortable in my own skin, and to be able to accept compliments! HUGE! So, I’m happy I went, and I’ll be looking into more of the Soul Speaks training. Who knew I’d end up being so open to the hippy-dippy? Not me, that’s for damn sure.

And the vulnerability hangover? It never came…"

Struggling with Shame *edited 12/2/18

Shame is the emotion I most often fall prey to when something doesn’t go the way I expect, or when someone doesn’t react to me the way I expect. The shame hits in the pit of my stomach, I feel uneasy and off-balance. It happens with little things, with big things, with inconsequential things, a hair-trigger of an emotion always lurking.

I had been doing a decent job of looking shame squarely in the face and telling it to fuck off as of late, and then I did something that feels so out of character that I’ve been struggling with shame ever since. I straight up asked Stretch Guy to help and support me more than he already is (which was conversations when I went for stretch sessions, 2 birds, one stone). I had gotten a lot of support from him over the summer partially because I hit all the therapies hard at once and was going weekly to see him for about 6 weeks straight. Then I got to the point where I don’t need the stretch sessions as often, but I still want to talk with him about all the things going on. So, I did it, I wrote the e-mail explaining that I see him as a mentor and I need more support. I promptly fought anxiety for hours until I got the reply saying he’d be happy to support me more.

Ever since then I’ve struggled with whether I did the right thing. I take that back, I struggle at very specific times whether I did the right thing. See, there is never a problem when I’m sharing with him all this therapy, dealing with depression/anxiety and family crap. It always comes after. It will hit when I get home, that fear, the feeling in the pit of my stomach, the non-stop questioning, the confusion. What have I done? Why do I lean on him so much? Is it ok? Is he ok with it? What does it mean? blah blah blah. I am so conditioned to believe there is no such thing as a platonic relationship between men and women that shaking the belief as I find myself in such a relationship, is nearly impossible. Therapist says it’s a vulnerability hangover (one of my favorite Brene Brown’isms) that I’m experiencing when this happens and in asking for help, it’s triggering my avoidant tendencies. She asked if I ever feel the same way after therapy, and I don’t. In my mind, I hire the therapist to help me through all this crap and that is what they are there for, to listen to me pour it all out. It’s pretty easy to work through that in my head so that I don’t have a strong reaction after therapy. He’s not a therapist, he’s just the Stretch Guy and there’s a weird connection that exists between us. The phrase it’s like my soul sees your soul has been uttered in all sincerity. I don’t get it, won’t ever get it, I’ll just chalk it up to a vastly different personality. I wholeheartedly believe he believes it, and who am I to question an intuitive person? I’ve got like zip in the intuitive department.

I was pretty proud of myself lately in that I have been able to have these conversations with him and not fall down the shame spiral. Then something happened and it’s such a little thing that I’m pissed at the level of shame I’m feeling. I knew he was going to do something difficult for him and he kind of joked that I should check in on him. When the time came, I texted a simple, “how are you”. Four hours later, with no response I sent more of a “no really…how are you” text. That one elicited a response along the lines of “oops, I’ve been doing a thing, thanks for checking in I’m fine”. That led to a short text conversation and at the end of it all, I sat on my couch feeling like a fool. So, he forgot he said he’d let me know and got wrapped up in his day. Not a big deal. Unless you’re me.

Let me lead you through the steps of my shame spiral

  • Good grief, do I really think he was going to be worried about updating you when he has x, y, z going on?

  • And why am I so damn invested anyway?

  • I’ll be better off if I just find another stretch therapist. This is ridiculous.

  • Shit, what do people think about mine and S’s relationship? All I do is blog about Stretch Guy it seems.

  • I probably annoy him with my stupid requests for support

  • I need him, he doesn’t need me

  • He has people who support him and I’m not part of that. I’m not important to him.

Let me show you why that’s all wrong

  • Yeah, people forget all the time about details in conversations they had 4 days ago.

  • So I sent two texts and once he saw them, he remembered immediately that he had told me to check in on him and let me know what was up. I’m invested because I care in the same way I would check up on a friend.

  • He’s a damn good stretch therapist and I trust him. End of that conversation.

  • I talk to S and S understands why I’m developing this relationship. Because S and I are two peas in a pod. I need that touchy-feely-intuitive type to give me a swift kick in the analytical ass.

  • Clearly I don’t annoy him with requests for support. In the past year and a half no one made him spill the beans about our similarities. He chose to share his story with me, and continued to encourage me. Oh, and besides…he has never shown annoyance with me over any of this stuff. He’s been a consistent safe presence.

  • I AM important to him. He’s said it and shown it by showing up for me. Sharing with me and supporting me.

There you go, all the reasons why I need to continue looking shame in the face and telling it to fuck off. Writing about this helped a ton. I could keep it draft just for me to read when I need a little kick to get out of the shame spiral, but that wouldn’t be wholly authentic. My blog, if it’s nothing else, is authentic.