I was talking to a friend about my anxiety and she keeps pressing me to see a shrink. I have reached out to six of them. Most of them aren’t taking new clients, or have changed their niche. Four referrals have been from doctors, one I found on my own and one a friend recommended. I hate the idea of talking to a therapist. I hate the idea of “working through trauma” because I don’t feel that that totally applies, but this friend keeps pushing. Hard.
I realize it is because I am leaning on her for a crutch, and it’s a lot. A lot for me to handle, a lot for another person to take on.
I tried to step back a bit from our connection so it wasn’t overwhelming as I knew I was in a really bad spot. I said some things that were on the negative spectrum and she said something to me along the lines of she was frustrated because I seemed to be making backwards progress. That the things I was saying were contradicting each other.
It hurt. A lot.
I have spent the last year working on me. I know my language is an issue. I have been told this by multiple people. I do work on it. I sound like a contradiction because the thoughts in my head are negative and then I correct them and voice those. But sometimes the original version comes out too. It is an endless circle. It is frustrating and exhausting. For me and for her.
When she said that… about my progress, it felt like a slap in the face. It felt like I wasn’t good enough or trying hard enough or working hard enough, or maybe it was true that I am just that difficult to love (I have heard this before). A whole lot of negative stuff came rushing in and it was more than I could handle last night. I started bawling.
I am frustrated with me. With my progress, my results. A friend’s voice came in to tell me “don’t beat up the machine, it is just putting out what you have asked it to.” Negativity. Anger. Frustration.
I actually rolled my window down in traffic today to bitch out a lady who made me slam on my brakes. Negativity. Anger. Frustration.
The loneliest place isn’t any place external. It is the space between your thought and feeling. It is in the endless circling of emotion that you feel like you can’t control. It is the knowledge that you are at the bottom of a wave and it’s the size of a fucking tsunami.
Today I feel like I am in a really deep pit. The light at the top is a pin prick. I start to climb the side and get side swiped by something. I fall. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.
Every time a negative thought comes in I correct it. Even in the midst of a meltdown I can be aware enough to say “I love this part of me too.” But… the feeling doesn’t come. So I repeat the process… again and again and again. That is the loneliest place. The moment of waiting when a thought is changed to something better and the heart picks it up… And when the heart doesn’t… it’s pure nothingness.
I have expanded my capacity for pain so much in my life. I know that also expands my capacity for joy, but those muscles are so atrophied that the little moments that bring others tranquility are a drop in an ever increasing bucket. If I am ever able to get myself shifted it will be euphoric, if… if…. if….. I just don’t know right now.
I thought that I was changing the pattern of depression and abuse in my family. Right now, I am not so sure. I am afraid to reach out, because I know I need a lot right now. I am afraid to say too much because I know my words still don’t serve me. I am afraid to just be how I am right now, because people expect (and I expect) something better. That comment about my progress going backwards… I know it was meant to inspire me to move, to be better. I know it was from a place of love and concern. I also know it was exactly the wrong thing for me in that moment. I should have said something, but I didn’t. I let the overwhelm build and I chose to walk away for a while, repeating an old pattern.
The loneliest place is not knowing where to turn or who to trust. It is knowing that your mental patterns aren’t accurate, but your heart isn’t giving you direction. It is realizing that your touchstone or totems are memories and memories fade. It is feeling that you can no longer lean on the one person in this world who has always seen you, always supported you, because you also know space is necessary for him and for you. The loneliest place lives at our very core, in the confusion and overwhelm and the muck of life. It is created by us.
And can be filled…. by us. By me.
In this expanding capacity I know I am too much for most people. I need too much. The only one who can even come close to honoring my capacity is me.
So I took a deep breath. Reached out to someone that I know I can trust and I dug in. I had to figure out a few things. Like, if my heart wasn’t leading the way, my mind had to… but I had to be very selective in what I chose to listen to. It is russian roulette with yourself. Pick the wrong thing, fall deeper in the hole.
I don’t have that luxury any more. It is just me. Fighting me. Leaning into the battle, the resistance, the pain. All to see if there is anything left to help me get to the top.
I will rise, for me. I will climb, for me. I will be happy, for me. I will be my own best friend, my own lover, my own confidante, until I am full enough that other people won’t buckle underneath me. I will survive, for me. ❤ ❤
Isolation. It’s a word that strikes fear in many. So many people that I talk to cannot stand the thought of being alone. They bounce from one relationship to another, one event to another, one text to another…
The irony of this life is that while we need each other to have fulfillment, we all travel our paths alone. Our journey to transformation is a solitary one. There is no right or wrong way to go, as long as there is motion. Stagnation is the enemy of growth.
My journey has been exceptionally lonely the last few days. My team of supportive friends has all been occupied with other endeavors, and I am happy for them. It kind of amplifies the silence though, and I realize that for once in my life, there is silence. Usually I have voices going round and round in my head tangling things up and mucking about. In an interview with Russell Brand, Ed Stafford (an English explorer and survivalist) told this story about Australian aboriginals and their belief that we have three brains. The first is instinct and lives in the gut and is the largest brain. The second is the heart which houses emotions, and the third… the smallest…. the logical brain. They call it…. something like “nondopido”. I am sure I am butchering the spelling. The word that they use is the same as a fishing net that is tangled beyond repair. According to Stafford, they believe that we, in the Western world, live in the logical brain and this is the reason for all of our strife and discontent. I have to say I agree wholeheartedly. The uncomfortable part for me right now is that the voices are much quieter than they were, so that familiarity is gone. The logical brain is quieting and I keep waiting for my heart turn over, to pick up the slack and it has its moments but sometimes there is just… nothing. We aren’t even going to talk about my gut… that needs some more sorting out before it’s working optimally.
As children we are taught very early on that education and book learning is superior. Success means going to college and getting a degree. I subscribed to that thinking my entire life, and now I find myself, on the verge of 36, in a profession that took me forever to get through all of the academic hurdles, only to realize that I feel mostly dead inside. I feel like all of my creativity has been extinguished. Finding things that make me heart light up are few and far between and when it does happen it is this small cracking that is almost incomprehensible. It’s hard to identify. The only time it hasn’t been, in as long as I can remember, was with Mr. X. Meeting him was this massive flood of love, my heart opened without question and dared to show itself in public with him at my side. Right now, I am without Mr. X, I am taking a much needed break because the confusion of our situation has caused me to reach a threshold. If I listen to my heart it wants to jump in with both feet. If I listen to my head it tells me to walk away. My guts… well they are in their own stratosphere. It is as if my systems aren’t talking to each other and there are these little short circuits that keep happening. I know that what I really need to do right now is focus on me. And stepping away for a while is allowing me to do that. It isn’t by choice, and I haven’t gone easily. I know it is the right thing to do, and a huge part of me has known this was coming for a while (maybe that’s my gut talking) but I really didn’t want to listen. It hurt my heart too much. When I look at it that way maybe my systems are talking louder than I thought, I am just ignoring them.
Back to the silence.
I had a moment today where I was able to drop pretty easily into a meditation. Thoughts came and went, but none stuck and for a second I felt connected. This is always a wonderful feeling. Then there was a flash of light and a warming over me that I know is love. Then nothing. No light, no darkness really, no thought, no spark of the heart, just this endless abyss. It wasn’t really scary, it was just… lonely. It felt like an in between place. I feel like I have been here for a really long time. Maybe the slowing of the voices is paving way for clarity. Maybe it is space to be able to take the next steps. I really don’t know at this point.
What I do know is that if my story can help anyone then I want to facilitate it. I know that I start a coaching program this week. I know that in order to help people my heart has to be open and I know that my heart opens very little around other people. Quite frankly I am scared that I won’t be able to access that level of love and caring that I need to be useful to humanity. It happens with animals because, well, they are animals. There is no fear, no insecurity, no judgement… just love. To do the same with people… I’m honestly not sure that I am capable of that. For as long as I can remember I have been looking for a place to dock my heart, a place where it can safely open and I have always felt that was with another person. I wasn’t wrong. But I also know that if I cannot be the safety that my heart needs that my gifts will never be fully available to the world. They will always be behind a veil. Can I be successful that way as a coach? Probably. I think there are a lot of people hiding behind curtains, but for me to consider myself a success I have to be able to show up completely authentically.
My only focus on this program right now is completing each step and each exercise to the best of my ability. I have no idea what the future looks like, and having another career in place allows me to be comfortable with that unknown. It also allows to me to just… focus on me. Use the tools on myself, see what works and what doesn’t and I know by doing that I will grow in the process.
The internal journey may be solitary, but in writing this I am reminded I am not alone. None of us are. If the internal pain and loneliness can be harnessed and used as motivation to push through to the other side, I know I will find whatever it is my heart is looking for. ❤ ❤
I was chatting with one of the girls at work today. She has been looking at wedding rings and made the comment that “of course, none of the rings fit me, I have fat, ugly fingers.”
That comment hit me so hard. My response was a rather emphatic version of “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR HANDS!!!! THISISABULLSHITSOCIETALCONSTRUCT!!!!!!YOUR HANDS ARE PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” It was a total mic drop situation.
It got me thinking though, how the fuck did we come to be in the position we are where we feel that FINGERS are ugly? Fingers…. fingers are tools, they are amazing! They grip things, caress things, have all of these little sensors that can take in the world, they are all unique, they have this memory that creates repetitive movements that allow us to type, write, play music etc. Fingers are badass. Why in the hell would we want them all to be the same?! Quit frankly I am proud of my hands, they are tough and strong and have the occasional callous because they do a lot of work and heavy lifting.
This is a timely piggyback off of my post yesterday about food and body image. Mainstream media makes me crazy. The “beauty ideals” that we are expected to embrace are simply idiotic. Those skinny models in magazines have to do a LOT to keep themselves that thin and people forget such things as airbrushing and creative photography exist. These images are not reality. They are constructs from some group of people who decided to prey on the fear. Fear of aging, fear that not being pretty enough meant your life would be harder or that you lack worth. It’s really annoying and needs to stop. It’s such fantastic fear based marketing to sell clothes, cosmetics, hair care and body products, cellulite reducers, wrinkle creams, diet after diet after diet, fat loss pills, energy pills, personal development trends…. the vast majority of marketing is fear based and the vast majority of people fall right into it. Myself included. I am much more aware of the choices I am making now and why I am making them but many times when I make a decision that goes against the norm I have this twinge of… hmmm…. maybe I am wrong to not be afraid of this, or maybe I am the one making the wrong decision about my body or my health. No NO NO!!!!!!! We are all built with these amazing feedback systems that tell us what we need, we just have to be tuned in enough to listen.
How do these negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves become habituated? They are repeated over and over and over again. It is just like anything really. If a kid grows up and feels like they are worthless it’s because they were told that over and over again. Sometimes that is a direct insult from parents or loved ones or a significant other but there is so much media influence that is present EVERYWHERE to pound that into our brains. We aren’t enough. We aren’t thin enough, smart enough or pretty enough. We are too different, not different enough. We are too fat, too tall, too loud. You can find conflicting evidence everywhere. The positive body movement is no different. Models are either exceptionally skinny or unhealthily overweight. There is never an in between which is unfortunate since most of us reside there. There is never just a you are enough. All of these conflicting images and outlooks leave people feeling lacking and confused.
How do we change that? We, as consumers, force industry to do better. We refuse to pander to their small thinking. We decide what is best for us. We decide what we need and want. We listen to our bodies and fearlessly move in the direction laid out for us by these badass biologic machines. We choose us.
Does this mean you have to go live in a van like a hippie and refuse to wear deodorant and live off grid in the mountains? No! If that’s what you want go for it. It means we can wear makeup because it makes us feel empowered, not because we think we need to cover our true selves. We make the choices we make for us, for what it brings us, not because we are afraid that if we don’t we will be viewed a certain way. We live for us and for no one else. We choose. We insist on better. We stick to our ideals and our ethics and we demand that consumer markets rise to meet us. We stop accepting companies and products that play on fear and we choose options with positive business models. We have so much power as consumers. Way more than we, as a single unit or person, give ourselves credit for. Become mindful in your day. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Is it because you want to? or because you feel like you need to in order to fit into society?
Make decisions for you. Trust your gut and your heart. ❤ ❤
From as far back as I can remember I have LOVED ice cream. I love that soft, pillowy texture of gelato as it comes straight out of the machine. I love the smell of the chocolate pieces that go into each batch of mint chocolate chip, or the frozen chunks of cookie dough adorning a vanilla background. I love the smell of a fresh made waffle cone. I LOVE ICE CREAM.
Also, from as far back as I can remember, I can hear my dad telling me that men didn’t want fat women or he would sing this song “Fatty fatty 2 by 4 couldn’t fit through the kitchen door.” I can remember my mom saying, “You’re having ANOTHER serving?” And while these comments weren’t meant to spark anxiety around food, they did. I realized pretty quickly that my self worth as a girl depended pretty solidly on my looks. I can remember being acutely aware, at a pretty young age, of how men would look at me. Even now I can recall how it made me feel…. dirty. I could feel them looking through my clothes at my tits and my ass, because the male role models in my life emphasized those attributes. Pretty soon I was so self conscious that I was wearing baggy sweaters and homely clothes in an attempt to stay away from that attention because it made me feel so gross and unsafe. I still do this…. and while I feel comfortable in fitted clothes I always feel like I am putting on a show.
Somewhere in my middle childhood I started to hide food. I would sneak cookies or ice cream or bread and butter. Sometimes I would sneak left overs because I was just plain hungry. I would eat pasta cold so I didn’t have to heat it up and my parents wouldn’t know. I knew everyone’s pattern and sounds in the kitchen and would sit and wait until it was peacefully empty before tiptoeing my way to the fridge. I developed a very unhealthy relationship about food. Predictably, I gained weight. Then I started running, every day, mile after mile. I got to the point where people were trying to force feed me sandwiches and saying I looked unhealthy. I felt great and knew part of them saying those things was because they lacked the motivation for weight loss in themselves. I definitely did the yo yo weight loss game.
You see, it doesn’t matter if you are fat or thin, bony or curvy, people will criticize you. The media will shove it in your face what it “means to be a woman,” tall, thin, legs for days. The resulting backlash of the body positive movement is the plus sized models who are on the other end of the spectrum. What about the girls in between? The 8-10s, the sizes that most stores sell out of the quickest.
Somewhere in the beginning of my childhood food became a comfort. We may get screamed at but we might also get ice cream later. We would get a treat for finishing a meal, for keeping quiet, for doing as we were told. Oreos, swiss cake rolls, Chips Ahoy. Food became a way to fill a void. It became something that could light up those pleasure centers when not much else in my life was. Our family is very food centered. No activity can take place without food. They see it as bonding, and yes, while the preparation and eating of food traditionally was a bonding ritual, somehow sitting down in front of the TV with some soup in your lap just isn’t the same. I still do this food hiding. It’s too a much smaller degree, but if people bring food to work I won’t eat it. People will tell me I have amazing resolve, but the truth is, I trained myself to not need food around other people. Catch me at the candy drawer later though and it’s a completely different story.
When I first moved out I went crazy. I ate pizza and pasta and ice cream night after night. I ate all of the things that were criticized so heavily in my formative years. I remember standing over my sink, spoon in a gallon of ice cream just completely clothed in shame and regret.
Sometimes in my late teens, early 20s I started to develop GI signs. I would notice I went to the bathroom A LOT more than my friends did. I would live on imodium, sometimes taking 6-8 a day to help control my intestines. I had no idea what I “could” or “couldn’t” eat. What would react with my body and what would be fine. I would eat a food one day and then next experience such severe bloating and pain from the same food that wearing clothes felt like this extreme form of torture. Somewhere along the way I became really self conscious about how my body was acting, when in reality it’s been telling me for a while that my current protocol wasn’t working. I went from taking pills to manage signs and eating anything I wanted to avoiding meds and simply not eating.
Simply put, I have a ton of anxiety around food. It’s gotten to a breaking point. I will find myself not just judging what I want to eat from a societal standard but I also end up planning my life around food. If I have a big event to go to I take probiotics, digestive enzymes, iodium. If I am going out with friends, or heaven forbid on a date, I don’t just have what I want to have because I don’t know how my body will react. Will I have to use a restroom on our after dinner walk and how embarrassing would that be to have to find one? I am on complete overdrive about my body. There is one person (who knows who I am) who has heard many of my concerns and stories and to him it was like, okay, so what? I can say to him my stomach feels like shit, I’ll be right back and he doesn’t falter. He doesn’t care. It’s glorious and most of the time around him I don’t have the issues I have around other people. There is this circle of anxiety about my symptoms that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And when people want to cook for me… fuck I go into panic mode. I don’t know why, but that it more likely to cause an issue for me than eating out in a restaurant.
I know that the anxiety around food isn’t helping my situation. I know that I carry a ton of shame and guilt still about eating and body image. I’ll just say it, I don’t have a good body image. If I never saw my body in another photograph in my life, I wouldn’t be upset. It’s weird too because naked I am actually kind of like myself. Maybe that’s the key… disowning my clothes…
Anyways, anxiety about food leads to more anxiety. Shame and guilt and regret about food leads to this emotional stagnation as it is something I haven’t worked through yet. Every time I eat something and choose to ignore my body signals, the negative self talk comes in. Some people love eating because they love the taste of food. This used to be me, and when I get a meal that actually is seasoned well and TASTES good, it is pure heaven. The rest of the time I eat to serve my body, which often shows up as bland meals. If I didn’t feel hunger, I would give up food altogether. I don’t think meals need to be bland and as my body heals I will experiment more and more with tastes and textures, and I’m really excited for that.
I know my stomach issues are not just related to feelings around food either. I think that as we have these energy blockages of things unprocessed, they create backups in the body. If the energy isn’t moving it still has to express itself and for me, this is how it shows up. I am confident that as I move through my own growth process, these symptoms will start to naturally dissipate and I will be able to get off of all the supplements and adaptogens and maybe, eventually, the toilet.
Some of the things that help me stay on track and result in less anxiety around food are planning ahead, food prep, progress over perfection, “making the move about the move,” and working out.
Planning ahead and food prep are separate in my book though there is obvious overlap. One of my big food lifestyle killers is rushing. If there is one thing in my day that will take a backseat with regard to self care, it’s eating. So when I make a decision to eat better and I don’t plan my day and end up rushing, I end up just not eating. I plan ahead things like setting out my clothes in the morning or packing some snacks ahead of time.
Food prep is obvious. If you don’t have the healthy food available you can’t eat it.
Progress over perfection means I am calming down on days when I find myself stopping for a taco when I have worked 14 hours straight. Sometimes some food is better than no food and when I start to get to the point over sensory overload I know it’s likely because I need to eat. I don’t beat myself up anymore when that happens. I do try to make the best choices from what is available at the time though, and that helps.
Making the move about the move is a phrase coined by Mike Kemski. It means instead of looking at all of my issues and where I am at and where I want to be and getting overwhelmed and quitting, I make each decision or effort about that thing. It is like breaking down a HUGE goal into a thousand manageable pieces and then just choosing to have laser focus with that one piece you are currently interacting with. For me in this case that might mean I don’t feel like making a meal, I have to go to the store and find a recipe and get the food, and wash and cook veggies … So I break it down. I drive to the store and focus on making that the best drive. I then try to focus on having fun at the grocery store. I pick out the most beautiful looking produce. Each move is mindful and small and it makes tasks more manageable. You can do this with anything. I do this A LOT with work right now. Instead of hating the fact that I am work and in a toxic environment, I make each hour about what is happening in that space of time. I make it about giving the best patient and client experience, or I make it the best round of client phone calls I have ever made. The key though is to focus 1. on the task at hand, not the end “big” vision and 2. cultivating the feeling you desire. I did this this morning on the way to the gym. I did not want to get up and go. I kept telling myself how tired I was… Then I decided to have the most fun, energizing drive to the gym and I told myself I wasn’t actually that tired, it was just where my focus was and once that focus shifted, I actually felt a weight being lifted from my eyes and shoulders. Powerful stuff.
Getting to the gym has been crazy helpful. One on hand I think it is helping with my overall digestion. I think that it to do with movement of energy and blood flow. On the other hand I have gained a lot more pride in my body and have really started to take care of it in all aspects so it makes it easier to eat in a way that supports it. Our bodies are kind of critical, without them we wouldn’t be able to interact with the world. Trash them and decrease our longevity. I know it sounds stupid and simple because it is, but for me anyways, until I started honoring my body as the fine vessel that it is, I would go around treating it like shit, not considering it was a tool for all of these experiences in life. This is also where I put my plug in for water. I don’t really drink anything else. Water is totally cleansing and life giving and it also absorbs energy, so drinking enough of that not only makes sure your cells are happy but also promotes better emotional processing. Don’t believe me, check out these water experiments by Dr. Masuaru Emoto https://youtu.be/tAvzsjcBtx8.
There you have it, my long, sordid history surrounding food. My story is in no way unique. I have talked to so many friends that feel the same sort of negativity around body image and it is a constant struggle. My hope is that by opening up some of these conversations we can create a space for healing and moving past some of these antiquated ideals. ❤ ❤
I woke up this morning with the space I brought forth yesterday still present.
Before I did anything else, I reached over to check my phone. It has been days since me and Mr. X have talked. No word from him…. still… my heart sunk…. again. I had a really clear moment of seeing just how much power I give him.
As I wrote yesterday, I am trying not to duck and run when things get hard in my life. The situation with Mr. X has been one of the most challenging puzzles in my life with regard to keeping my heart open and working on our friendship. I have had a few close friends tell me I need to cut off all contact in order to heal. The truth is, I don’t want to. I rely on him, heavily, for support. His being in my life has changed and elevated it in so many ways and he is the only person who truly sees me. He has asked me to trust that this will work out like it’s supposed to, that our paths will cross again romantically if they are meant to, he has asked me to trust him. And I do, but fuck it hurts when we aren’t talking regularly. This is a feeling I don’t experience with my other friends, so clearly I have a lot of work to do still to get past the romantic bits.
I spend too much of my energy waiting for him. Hoping he will message me, hoping he will tell me he is ready to be together, hoping he will show up like I need him to. The truth is, our agendas are different. He is happy having me as a friend, and I am looking for a life partner. I realized this morning that the waiting around is killing me. He has never asked me to wait and I know he would tell me to go live my life. It is in these moments I see just how dysfunctional and co-dependent my idea of love really is.
So I muted my messenger.
The immediate relaxation I felt with the KNOWING that I 100% would not hear that glorious chime today was a breath of fresh air. I made that decision and it felt good and my heart lightened for a moment. I asked myself, okay what else do you want?
I made a list of the things that are stressing me out quite badly and I wrote down actionable steps that I could take to relieve some pressure and I did them.
One of my other big stressors, aside from my relationship at work, is my health. My body is exquisitely sensitive and all of this emotional turmoil is resulting in GI issues. I have always had some issues and they improve a little with each suggestion from a doctor, but the changes don’t last and I think that most of it is emotional stagnation and dysfunction. I have decided to really focus on my health for a bit. I am trying to put only good things into my body and really honor it as much as I can. I had some really bad stomach pain and nausea this week and I woke up one morning just thinking, I cannot take this anymore. There has to be change.
I happened to listen to this Wim Hof interview on Russell Brand’s podcast and the scientific evidence behind his breathing technique was pretty impressively presented. Given all of the information we are discovering about our bodies and the potential that we haven’t even tapped into, I am really confident that we can heal our own bodies. I don’t know how in the hell I am going to do this, but I am embarking on a quest to figure out how. I am sure there will be a lot of trial and error and I will welcome it because I cannot live like this anymore. I did the Wim Hof method twice today. Just like anything, especially when talking about chronic issues, there is never an instant change, but there is usually a heart reaction and today when I was doing the breathing I felt like it was right. My goal is to get my body working at its optimal capacity. I realize this will also mean healing the mental and emotional bodies.
What did I do for myself today? I rested and I took an inventory of what was working and what wasn’t in my life and how I could change it. I was able to listen to the space between my fear and my inner being and figure out what I wanted and connected with my heart enough to get some feedback on next steps. Up next, meditation. I have gotten away from consistent practice and in many ways have shunned a lot of these modalities even though I know they are really powerful. Once again, it comes back to do I really want to change? Some days I do and some days I don’t. Today is a day of change so I will harness all of the motivation that I can to keep moving forward, even if it feels like I’ve taken ten steps back. ❤ ❤
What are some self care routines that you guys have that keep you grounded?
Sometimes the best we can do on a given day pales in comparison to what we are capable of.
We make decisions and actions with the knowledge and wisdom that we have and we move through life moment by moment the best we can. This doesn’t mean that I am always acting in my highest power or that I am happy all the time.
Sometimes the best I can do is get out of bed, get my body moving and stumble through my day.
I have been sitting down to write a post for the last 45 minutes. I have three started, none finished, and little inspiration.
Then I remembered this journey is about self love. Yes, I wanted to write everyday. So here I am writing…. it may not be a winner, it may not be “good” or full of wisdom, but it is the best that my tired mind and heart can muster.
Whatever your day today, know that here, there is love and acceptance and the knowledge that we are all doing the best we can. Sometimes self love is admitting you need a night off. ❤ ❤
I have had this really distinct feeling, the last few days, that I am moving through glue. I call this place an emotional purgatory. A space between worlds. I talked about the crazies a few days ago here and how they come to be when there is a space that you are in that is between your new life and your old life. It is not a pleasant place to rest and is 100% not a stopping point. The longer the crazies go on, the more pressure and funk surround you. I think the level of crazies that occurs is probably in direct proportion to the “bigness” of the life change at hand. Currently, the one I am going through is pretty large. I shouldn’t be surprise. I have about a four year expiration on staying in one place and doing the same thing day in and day out. I am just not meant to live with my days decided for me. So, on to the next adventure.
I am tired of working a 9-5 job. I am tired of having to answer to a boss and a manager and of having a hundred different levels of “checking in” that need to happen to get through the day. I want a job where I can be my own boss, make my own decisions, not have someone looking over my shoulder. I simply don’t need that. I know a lot of people who do, and a lot of people who love the oversight and not having to make decisions, and I applaud those people because they do jobs that, quite frankly, I don’t want to do and give me the freedom to pursue my dreams.
I also want a job that I can leave behind for a while.
I may work a 9-5 and technically am supposed to be at the clinic for those hours, but the work is never ending. The patients don’t automatically fix themselves by an appropriate time in the afternoon, the client calls and emails don’t stop after five. If I could set my own hours, maybe I would feel different, but I can’t. I have to be at work from 9-5 and then I am still expected to be present and available whenever clients/patients need me. I was told by the CEO of our company that unless I was prepared to work 24/7 I was not going to make it in this profession and maybe he is right. I definitely do not fit into the current paradigm. I have been trying to maintain some anonymity with this blog but it is time to come clean on one thing.
I am a veterinarian. I work primarily with horses. The expectations of an equine vet coupled with long hours, limited pay, a dangerous profession and the endless other stressors make it a really hard profession to survive in and we are seeing a higher attrition rate than ever before. Don’t even get me started on the stifling student loan debt and the hugely inflated cost of higher education.
Quite frankly, I am sick of it.
I used to love this profession. Before I started vet school I was working two jobs, attending two universities to get my prerequisites done, I was volunteering to gain experience. I was up early, went to bed late, was hugely motivated and thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I would drive an hour one way to get to the clinic I worked at, they would call me in the middle of the night for emergencies and I would go, happily. I loved it. Right up until I was handed my diploma. I had just spent four years taking 20+ credit hours a semester on top of working three jobs, I was exhausted before I even got on my feet. I took my first job, an internship (basically a requirement to work in equine medicine), making barely enough money to survive.
Once I was out in the “real world (and out of my internship)” things were a lot different. Suddenly I was responsible for cases. Solely responsible. I had to make all of the decisions, have all of the hard conversations, come up with treatment plans and ideas, taking all of the little considerations into account before making recommendations.
Medicine is not cut and dry. Especially vet med. In addition to having patients that can’t talk, we don’t have insurance to subsidize treatment in many cases. We have to balance what is the gold standard of care and all of the things we would like to do in the best interest of the patient with the owner’s budget. We also have to have realistic expectations of what treatments owners can be expected to take on at home with regard to their comfort level and patient disposition. We have to be able to justify every test that we want to run, and we should be able to do that! The disconnect comes in though when clients compare veterinary care with human medicine. They don’t realize that their doctor often just asks for a whole boatload of diagnostics knowing insurance is paying for it. If you actually ask your healthcare provider to explain why they are doing what they are, sometimes they can’t, and damn they don’t like to be questioned. I was fired from a doctor for asking why she was running the tests she was and for asking if we could consider an alternative treatment opposed to a strictly Western based one. Her response, “that’s not how I was trained so it doesn’t exist in my world.” Many of them are afraid to look outside the box and think critically about their patient as a whole. Symptoms are treated, not underlying causes. This is COMPLETELY opposite to vet med.
Veterinarians are an amazing group of people. We work our asses off. We love your animal and we try really really hard to do the absolute best we can with often limited resources. We, or at least I, try to practice preventative medicine in the hopes that we can you pet healthy enough to not require many veterinary visits. Most clients do not understand how much we care. They don’t understand that we go home and pour over literature trying to find something that will help your terminally ill pet. They don’t understand that we may have to end the life of a patient we have known for 15 years and five minutes later go into a room with a bright, happy family who just got a new puppy, pushing down our own emotions so we can be present with each case. They don’t understand that we discount work…. A LOT… in order to be able to provide better care than what you can afford. They don’t understand that the constant belittling of the veterinary profession and bitching about invoices makes us insane because if we actually charged for all of the things we did (like a hospital or human doctor would do) that your bill would have been twice what it was. And they don’t understand that we have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession.
Our work is dangerous and very emotional but we often have to stifle that emotion so we can continue with our day. We are constantly questioned and belittled and in my experience this also includes from family members and friends, so there is little reprieve. We have to know about multiple species and are expected, by clients, to know EVERYTHING about all of them. In the equine world we have trainers pushing for meds and injections that sometimes aren’t in the interest of the patient. We are constantly asked to compromise our values in order to provide a service for many of our competition clients. We are asked to give our cell number out to all of our clients who sometimes, because they thought of a question at 2 AM, will text or call at all hours, not realizing we just worked a 14 hour day where we had one pee break and our lunch and dinner consisted of a gas station hard boiled egg and some peanuts, and we can’t turn our phone off because we are on call. Most people will never know the jolt of resentment that comes when our phone does goes off because we are so damn tired and realize that once interrupted, won’t be able to fall asleep again. Most people will never know the heartache that comes when we lose a patient and wonder if we had done just one more test or procedure if we could have saved them. Most people will never know the absolute guilt that comes with having to tell someone, I’m sorry I can’t help you today, it is my day off. That shit gets into the heart and stays there.
And many people will never know what it is to see a mountain of debt so high that as a single person I can barely buy a used car and forget trying to buy a house… Most people won’t know what it is to go to work everyday armed with the knowledge that what they are making is a drop in the bucket, enough to survive but not enough to even begin touching the principle on their loans.
So, I am changing my current reality. I am choosing to believe that there is a different life for me. One where I can breathe. Where I can help people and have an impact on humanity. Where I can pay off my debt and live a life that is both satisfying personally and professionally. I don’t think I will ever stop being a vet, or stop working long hours, or obsessing about my patients, but I will stop being someone who is consumed by this profession and I will start being someone who does it my way. I will be an oar that is helping to shift the paradigm for all of those bright eyed veterinary wannabes that will come after me. In writing this I realize I do really love this profession. But I love me more.
So… this purgatory…
I really went off on a tangent there. I guess I am more passionate about it than I thought. I don’t want other people to feel like I do right now. I don’t want people to feel stuck or pushed into a corner with a weight on their chest because they love what they do but realize it isn’t sustainable.
I want people to feel freedom in their minds and hearts. I want them to have room to breathe, no not just room to breathe, room to take huge, full breaths, freely and openly while spreading their wings. Before I can make any sort of change in this world, I have to learn to do that for myself.
In many ways this blog started as a way to process feelings about Mr. X, it was a way to place a microscope on my life and examine all of the things that I need to change and adjust. It started as a way to get through some heartache and has turned into a hyper-focused evaluation into the edges of my own humanity, a way to stretch my own boundaries and not just discover, but create the life I was meant to lead.
Part of the process of “rebirth” is swimming through the mire and muck. It’s recognizing that the purgatory, while an uncomfortable place, is also a place of tremendous growth and means that there is movement. It is a place where one can either swim forward or backward. Decisions are being made, progress is being made, but nothing is written in stone yet. It is a sacred place actually. It feels like total shit, but is the breeding ground for the next better thing. So as I find myself here, trying to breathe through the glue, attempting to keep my head above the surface, I find a massive amount of appreciation, because I am here. I am alive. And I am well on the way to creating whatever the fuck I want. ❤ ❤