radicallifechange: apple. (Default)
For awhile I've been slowly reading a book called Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody.

Today I'm thinking about the differences between my last relationship and my current one, and how in my last relationship I felt that I was experiencing love addiction more strongly. In my current one I believe I'm experiencing love avoidance more strongly, but I'm not entirely sure.

The three characteristics of the Love Addict:
  • "1. Love addicts assign a disproportionate amount of time, attention, and 'value about themselves' to the person to whom they are addicted, and this focus often has an obsessive quality about it."
  • "2. Love Addictions have unrealistic expectations for unconditional positive regard from the other person in the relationship."
  • "3. Love Addicts neglect to care for or value themselves while they're in the relationship."


My experience )
radicallifechange: apple. (Default)
This is a challenge of mine that I have been aware of for some time, and am exploring again anew through this conscious act of habit changing that I have decided to do.

When I'm craving comfort is when I'm more likely to do things like watch TV, eat out of boredom, and seek pleasure in other ways. That's essentially what I'm doing -- whatever I'm feeling is unpleasurable and I'm seeking activities that feel pleasurable to soothe my feelings, to soothe the discomfort.

When I'm wanting others to take care of me I'm more likely to:
  • feel dependent on them to achieve my goals
  • get overly upset with them (in proportion to what the actual circumstances are).

These two usually come hand in hand.

*

I will give an example I've experienced recently -- I woke up early and was doing my workout. I was not wanting to do my workout, I really would rather have been cuddling in bed with my boyfriend. He was awake and talking with me and just relaxing in bed. I told him he should get up and be active, too, do some active stuff with me, and he didn't want to because he said it was nice under the covers. The day before I had asked him if he would do my workout with me, as I'd been feeling very resistant around doing it and felt some company would be supportive. It didn't end up happening because before we got the point where I was going to do my workout he started thinking about a family member who had died recently, felt sad, and then fell asleep. I didn't have any hard feelings about this, obviously, because he was feeling grief and I wouldn't want to intrude on that or impede it in any way. I did my workout on my own while he was sleeping.

Anyway, this time, I felt very sad. I somehow felt that he wasn't taking care of me. I think what I had really wanted to say to him was it's hard for me to resist my temptation to lie down in bed with you and cuddle rather than do my workout, can you get up and be active with me and help me resist that temptation? But instead I said it pretty lightly, like it wasn't a big deal, and then felt very hurt by his lack of interest. I felt that he didn't truly understand how hard I was trying, and how much I could have used a helping hand, and how very much I just wished someone would get that and just help me without me having to cajole or even having to even ask, honestly.

Things I felt as this was happening:
  • "I shouldn't feel so sad about this, he totally has the right to want to stay in bed and relax, I shouldn't try to blackmail him into doing what I want by getting sad."
  • "I shouldn't depend on him to be able to do my workout, I should be able to do it on my own and if I can't that means that I don't really want to in the first place, or that I'm not taking the full responsibility of my decisions."
  • "This kind of behavior is codependent." (I am codependent.)

But the truth is I didn't really feel those things I was supposed to feel. I felt disappointed and unsupported. I felt that I didn't want to try to convince him. I felt that, I don't know -- I wanted him to get it, to be there with me emotionally. I really, really wanted him to get it. To get how I feel without me having to explain every nuance. I wanted him to understand that there are times I really push to keep going and how very much it would mean to have him at my back, to have him remind me of the course I want to steer.

I felt really, really sad. At that point, he was still watching me work out and I told him I didn't want him to watch me anymore -- we had stopped chatting -- because it made me nervous. But mostly it was that I felt really bad and didn't know what to do with it. I knew I didn't want to immediately react. I took a little while and felt the sadness for some time, and then I talked to him and told him that in all honesty, I would like that support from him. That I was struggling in the mornings to stay on track and I would really appreciate having him wake up with me and getting up and making the bed (we have a bed that sort of folds up, so once it's folded up it reduces the temptation to lie down), and I said that I'd like it if he did something active with me in the mornings. He said that he'd be happy to support me in that way and if I could wake him up and toss him a pair of pants in the mornings he could do that.

Now, ultimately, I feel pretty okay about how I handled it -- I revealed what was going on with me and I think I did well not using my emotions to pressure him to do what I wanted -- but at the same time there's a discomfort I have with the intense sadness I experienced.

It was just such a feeling of not being SEEN, of not having help or support. And it felt that it had an intensity that was definitely outside of those moments. Something that I've been carrying around with me for a long time -- a sense that I'm not understood, that the help I need/want is not available to me, a sense that what I want is TOO MUCH, it's NOT OKAY, it's mentally/emotionally wrong somehow, etc.

I think a big part of it is that I have felt for a long time that people really have very little sense of the weakness I feel at times. There are times when I really wish people would help me make mindful choices -- telling me "Sheera, let's have fruit for dessert" rather than people telling me "come on, Sheera, you can skip out on your diet for today, let's get chocolate for dessert." I wish people would help me out when I'm feeling weak, and instead of I usually feel that people don't even KNOW that I'm feeling weak or conflicted. I usually want to do the right thing, whatever I believe the right thing is in the moment, but I do have a limited store of willpower available to me.

*

Another example -- I came home early from work one day and wanted to watch TV. My mom was watching TV. I asked her if I'd be able to watch -- I decided I was going to take a few days off from my no TV program. We went back and forth about it a bit and she finally clarified for me that she wanted to watch for 3-4 more hours, she had a disc she wanted to finish.

She asked why I was doing it, and I explained that I was longing for the comfort of it. That coming home, laying on the couch, and catching up on my favorite shows sounded really appealing right now. That I just wanted to take a few days off from being so productive all the time, always on it, always ON period. I wanted to turn on and enjoy my shows for a bit.

And then I felt sad that she still didn't decide to let me watch. She asked why I was sad and I didn't want to explain -- I felt that I would use my sadness to guilt-trip her in that moment and didn't want to. But I felt very unseen, uncared for.

Two scenarios of what I was wanting:
  • To decide she could watch her disc the next day (when I'd be working all day and then out of the house that night as well, not that she necessarily knew that) so she could let me enjoy my afternoon of relaxation, I wanted her to be able to sense that I could really use that and be willing to make that space for me
  • To stop watching what she was watching for a minute and sit with me and help me investigate WHY I was craving television so strongly, and would there be some other activity I could use to fill up this day, and maybe together we could figure out something I could do to stay on track that would still fulfill my relaxation need. Honestly, this is the option I think I would most prefer and I feel is least likely to happen.

I had a lot of the same shoulds going through my mind with this. I shouldn't be sad at her reaction, I shouldn't expect her to read my mind and know what's going on with me, I shouldn't expect her to sacrifice her time to help me, etc. And of course there's merit in all that, but then simultaneously the fact of the matter is that I'm feeling what I'm feeling.

I think in some ways it boils down to wishing that other people would help me maintain good structure. I wish people would help me make more mindful, positive choices and that people would understand how much I need that help at times.
radicallifechange: apple. (Default)
In the PN lesson I'm reading today, it's differentiating familiar difficulties with new challenges. Familiar difficulties might be: constantly running oneself into the ground working two jobs, etc., and though it's hard work and a lot of effort to maintain that, it's FAMILIAR effort.

And for someone like that, a new challenge might be cutting back on work, staying at home a whole day and enjoying some time with their family. Or going out and enjoying a relaxing activity just for themselves.

So I wanted to think about what kind of challenges I'm avoiding. Now, there is a definite familiarity to my plan for me. I like to plan; I like to set big goals; I like to try to find the "right" way to do things. I've never done anything so ambitious nor done it this way before, so there is a lot of newness here for me, and I'm learning a lot. I'm not going to make the mistake of making this all black/white -- I'm sure there are areas where I'm in familiar territory and areas where I'm not.

But what new challenges am I SPECIFICALLY avoiding?

Well, I can think of a few off the top of my head.
  • Becoming more comfortable with insecurity. I hate insecurity. I hate feeling insecure. I hate NOT KNOWING things. I hate not knowing basic things, like when I'm going to wake up or when I'm going to get to sleep, I hate not knowing more complex things, like how my boyfriend is feeling after a potentially tense interaction, I hate not knowing when/if I'm going to have the time to do the things I want to do.

    I hate the idea of trying to accomplish all my goals without setting up a structure and time structure that make it possible. I hate the idea of trying to wing it every day. I hate the idea of trying to fit things in when I can. I want to have ample time, I want to feel relaxed, I want to feel SECURE. I fucking hate the idea of day to day struggling to figure out things like, okay, I didn't have time to do a workout this morning because I woke up five minutes before I had to leave, but maybe I can do it tonight when I get home from work right before I go to bed...

    I hate that idea. I hate the idea of that insecurity, that constant feeling of being off-kilter, of struggling so much. I love the idea of getting up in the morning, taking care of what I want to take care of, and then being able to go to work, get that done, come home and sleep and be relaxed knowing I've done my stuff.


  • Taking on too much variety. Initially I was thinking that I'd be able to start varying my workouts more by February. Instead, I have cut back to basically one workout routine for February, because I'm still struggling so much with the sleep thing.

    There's something about a lot of variety that I find offputting and intimidating -- I don't think having to THINK so much all the time, I like the idea of becoming comfortable with one specific routine, improving at it and being able to note my improvement, rather than constantly feeling like I'm barely even able to get through routines. So I was going to wait until I have at least one workout down before moving on to adding others. I don't like to idea of learning multiple things at once, feeling like a beginner at multiple things at once. Maybe it's because I'm also learning a new job and learning new skills at my main job (branching out into a new area of the same work I do), but when it comes to my workout I want to be able to have a set of moves DOWN. I like that security that comes with having something down, with not having to refer to the paper every five seconds.

  • Eating slowly. This was something I thought about before signing up for Precision Nutrition, and I didn't decide to put it in my plan. But it turned out to be the second habit for PN! Hahaha. I was resistant to challenging myself with this because I felt at this point it was more important for me to at least be putting healthy foods in my body on a regular basis, because in the past I've had resistance to eating healthy even when the food is made for me. I really struggle with eating slowly. I've been struggling with the habit a lot. I have no problem CHEWING and eating slowly, actually. I have problems NOT DOING OTHER THINGS. I always want to somehow keep myself occupied while eating -- reading, browsing the internet, whatever.

    I actually find that when I sit there and just focus on eating, I tend to eat faster. If I do something else while I'm chewing, then I can chew more slowly. There's something about just sitting in front of a plate and staring at it that I find very unpleasant. I think boring is the word. Obviously this isn't such a big deal if there's someone I can talk to, but when it's just me, and I'm sitting there with a plate of food and feel like I'm just WAITING, I don't know. Bleh. I'm still working with this, ha! Even though we're on to our next habit this is still the one I'm putting more effort into.

  • Meditation. I thought about adding meditation into my plan and opted not to. I didn't quite feel like it was the time. I feel that that's something I want to tackle when I'm a bit more solid in my routine, etc. I'm not sure if that's because I want to put off something uncomfortable until I feel more "secure" and "together" or if it's an accurate intuition letting me know that it makes more sense to tackle one area at a time.

  • Relationship stuff. I work on relationship stuff to a certain degree, and have gone to couples therapy with my boyfriend, but I know that I'm capable of doing a lot more focused and directed work. I know that I'm really able to WORK this stuff if I want to, and there's a part of me that thinks "no, I want to do all this other stuff first, then I can work on the relationship stuff." And in this instance I do think it's part of me avoiding. Avoiding all this mucky stuff that relationships bring up.
radicallifechange: apple. (Default)
Thus far my biggest challenge has been sleep. Getting to bed early enough to wake up on time, waking up on time, waking up on time even if I get to bed later, not napping too much, etc.

I also think sleeping may be one of the most important aspects of this whole plan.

Fuck, sleep and I. I feel like we've had this stand-off so many times before.

What's been going on:
  • Beginning of January - things were going fairly well. I was just pushing through the sleepiness in the morning and I even remember that as soon as the second day I was getting to bed way earlier. I was hopeful by that by the end of January the sleepiness would be kicking in at night at making it a lot easier to get to sleep.

  • Roadblock in mid-January - I'm finding that the nights I work I have an especially hard time getting to sleep early, and even some nights I'm not working I'm still having a hard time relaxing at night. The sleepiness in the morning is getting hard to push through. One day, I'm so tired that an hour into my workout I realize that I can hardly focus because all I can think about is sleep and my heart rate has been up since I woke up, which is generally a bad sign for me. I then take a nap, and from that point things have been going up and down.

  • End of January - I realize that this isn't working out because more and more days I'm sleeping in, and I'm still not getting to bed much earlier. I realize I'll probably need to think of some things to help me wind down at night. I brainstorm, come up with a whole list of possibilities, and decide that I want to experiment with some combination of the following:
    • melatonin
    • having a strict lights-off time
    • lighting a candle when I get home instead of having bright artificial lights on
    • spending a few minutes "unloading" from the day in whatever form that takes, journaling, etc.
    • some time doing self-relaxation techniques - something similar to affirmations, but not quite like that. I would describe what I have in mind more along the lines of self-reassurance. Reassuring myself that everything's going to turn out okay, that the next day will be fine, that I'm doing well, that I can relax.
    • some time meditating

    I've been doing some mixture of the above elements most nights, and it's helped. I have more consistently been getting to bed at an earlier time, though I'm still not waking up at my target time yet.

  • Today - today I am feeling disheartened. Last night I stayed up quite late and today I didn't get up on time, and I have no urge to work out. I am into the second week of February and I just feel disheartened that I have another setback with this. Today I slept in and my body feels like crap and I'm just not happy with a bunch of other stuff, on top of that. Part of me is frustrated because I felt like this sleep thing would be worked out by now and that I'd already be able to be moving on to other stuff, and instead I've actually cut back on working out and simplified some other elements of my plan because I know that until I get this sleep thing down everything else is too much. BLAH.

And more context. )
radicallifechange: apple. (Default)
I'd like to talk about why I decided to do this.

Over this last winter, I wasn't in the greatest place. Winter tends to be a rough time for me anyway - the seasonal change, less light, and my body doesn't react well to the cold, in particular my extremities. I've dealt with depression before and the times I was most likely to be depressed were during winter.

Food. Food was all over the place for me this winter. At some point I realized I wasn't getting enough homemade food and my mom and I worked out an arrangement where I paid her to cook lunches for me, so then most days I'd have at least one homemade meal. (When I didn't forget my lunch, or not go to work, or not eat my lunch because I didn't feel like it, etc. In other words, a lot of days I didn't even get that one homemade meal.) But other than that, a lot of times it was going out for dinner, eating with my boyfriend's family sometimes, sometimes eating stuff my boyfriend brought home from his job (pretty gourmet stuff but often pretty rich). I also started eating a lot of sweets. It began with here and there and just increased and increased to the point where I was eating candy or chocolate daily, and amounts that I didn't feel good about but didn't feel able to stop. It didn't help that my boyfriend would also bring home LOTS of gourmet sweets from work, at least weekly, and literally usually enough to share between a whole family - which I did, luckily, sharing with my parents, so at least I wasn't demolishing all that stuff by myself.

With this also came a decrease in fresh foods and veggies and an increase in wheat, dairy and processed foods. Some nights I would come home and make myself a frozen veggie pizza and eat most or all of it with some kind of sugar afterwards.

Sleeping. Some nights I'd be going to bed as early as 10:30pm, some nights as late as 3:00am. Mornings I'd wake up typically later -- 9am to 11am -- but then some mornings for work I'd have to get up at 6:00am. That definitely didn't feel great after a night of not much sleep. I also found myself sometimes sleeping through morning appointments more than once, which often led to me waking up with a feeling of panic - "oh, #(*@&$#*, I'm supposed to at the vet's right now dropping the cat off!" - and also a sense of hating this feeling, hating this feeling of being totally off-kilter and unprepared because I wasn't grounded enough in my own life to remember everything I had going on. My boyfriend and I were also going back and forth between houses a lot and spending the night at different places and I found I really didn't like that and this year wanted to settle myself into one place.

Work. Because I was often waking up late I'd find myself skipping out on work more. Sometimes I'd play hooky with my boyfriend, who works mostly at night, or sometimes I'd just be by myself and then I'd typically do one of two things, 1) sit around watching TV all day, 2) going out and running errands and doing random shopping with my mom. I didn't feel so terrible about #2 because at least I was getting out and it was fun to hang out with my mom, but #1 happened a lot more often, and I never felt okay about it, but somehow felt compelled to keep doing it despite that. My boyfriend would sometimes end up being very late to work or playing hooky, as well, because once I'd already done so he would then want to.

Money. I overextended myself financially at work - spending money for the company and taking a temporary paycut with the knowledge that I'd get paid back in a few months. I also overextended myself personally, eating out too much and towards the end of the year I picked up a stray cat with a broken leg and probably since then have spent close to $1,000 or more on various vet visits he needed as well as supplies. I got behind on rent and even paying my mom for making my lunches, my credit card always started being maxed out, and I had this constant feeling of being unable to even save anything because it was always going OUT. I finally collected my money back from the company and that gave me a boost in the right direction, but I'm still bouncing back from that, some more of which I'll discuss in the post where I talk about how I'm planning to implement this plan and what the different aspects are.

Exercise. I wasn't exercising much. I had my trainer who I saw once or twice a week, from 3-5 hours, and he developed a routine for me to do whenever he came that I could use to get some improvement in my flexibility and also something that I could memorize so I could get the satisfaction of making progress with something and also having something stable amidst all this instability. That I did like. Of course around the holidays we took a lot of time off and I didn't do much on my own during that time.

Health. Needless to say, all this didn't leave me feeling too good. The food I really felt was causing me bad reactions - feeling phlegmy all the time and just generally low on energy, as well as my digestion not being so happy. A combination of working more at a desk and not exercising much was creating immense amounts of pain in my shoulders, neck, and a point on my midback right between my shoulder blades. My legs also got incredibly tight - I am a naturally flexible person, but when I go the other way, it tends to be extreme and even basic stretches were tough.

Emotional state/wanting to change. I was also dealing with feelings of shame, dissatisfaction, and general frustration because I could feel the changes I wanted to make but I just wasn't making them. I'd try here and there -- "okay, in the morning I'm going to start waking up earlier" or "okay, my boyfriend and I are going to sign up for a gym and work out a lot" -- but nothing stuck, and sometimes I never even got started on any of these lofty goals.

Honestly, what I really had was this feeling of... the whole thing was off. This wasn't just one little aspect here or there that needed slight tweaking. Everything was somewhat off, and everything was also feeding into everything else. I was getting into a negative feedback loop -- the less I'd sleep, the less I'd want to go to work, the more likely I'd be to stay home, watch TV, eat out of boredom, and do the same thing the next day because I always find the more days I have like that the more days I have like that. Momentum, and all that, just going in the direction I didn't want.

The other thing that I've really noticed is that what I don't like is constant change. I was craving regularity. I didn't want to be going to bed one night at 10am and the next night at 2am. I wanted to have a regular bed time that I stuck to every day. What I really wanted? Little things, like to know when I'm going to fall asleep. To know when I'm going to wake up. To know that I'm going to have a good meal to eat. To know that I'm going to get a certain minimum of exercise in weekly, and if I get in more, great, but to know that I'm at least getting the amount done to keep me moving in the direction of better health. I wanted a feeling of security. I wanted to be able to relax into a secure, stable structure.

Hence, this whole idea.

Now, to talk about the other very important reason I'm doing this.

Chronic pain. I've had chronic pain since I was around 11 years old. We think it started when I had to begin carrying much heavier books for school, to and from school and to and from my classes. From what I remember we didn't have lockers in middle school.

Sometime I might post pictures of myself from that time, but let's just say that what happened in conjunction with this was a bad posture. Hunched shoulders I think was my big issue. When I was a pre-teen and teenager most of my hobbies were also sedentary -- reading, internet, drawing, etc. -- and I didn't get very much exercise. I did horribly in P.E. I think it was one of the few classes I almost failed when I was in highschool. I somehow managed to scrape by, though I wonder how considering I hardly ever dressed out and I don't even remember being able to finish the mile due to athletically-induced asthma, and the fact that I went from running not much at all during the year to trying to do a mile at the end of the semester.

There was a point in 2011 where things got really bad. Towards the beginning of the year I had:

- wrist and finger pain that felt like carpal tunnel or something similar (overuse of laptop)
- low back pain
- mid-back pain
- hip/butt pain
- neck pain
- shoulder pain
- tingling in the bottoms of my feet

Plus, that pain would often travel and end up in my legs, ankles, mid-arms and whatnot. It was awful. My worst point was when I could hardly walk, stand or really do anything for any longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

My journey with exercise and such would be a topic for another post, but let's just say that through the whole process of trying to bounce back from that low point, I discovered that the only thing that really seemed to surefire help (and I tried a number of things, from physical therapy to acupuncture to massage to herbs and on and on) was regular exercise, especially a combination of stretching, cardio and strength. It seemed like the strength and stretching never went as well without the cardio, in particular.

So one of the big reasons I have decided to do this is because of where I was -- in chronic pain, at some points very debilitating chronic pain -- and where I ultimately want to be -- healthy, strong, and happy.
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