Friday, July 6, 2018

There is no joy in "swiping right"

So… recently I went through a break-up. I haven’t wanted to write about it a lot (and I have realized that I only seem to want to blog when I’ve got some life issues going on rather than when I’m all happy and sappy) because, while I do think there’s a great story in how we got together, it’s not one I can tell right now without crying. Yep. I said it. The whole thing has made me cry. Like, at random times. I can’t even write about crying without starting to cry. Go figure, all you people that think I have no soul. Well, I do. So there. And a heart. It’s just broken right now.

But that’s not the point of this blog entry. One day I will write about that relationship and that man, because I like the story, so I want to tell it. I may even get up on a stage somewhere and tell it because people who’ve already heard it do agree… it’s a damned fine story. It may not have had a particularly happy ending, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the story wasn’t worthwhile. So one day…but not today.

For today, I have some other thoughts rumbling around in my head. As a little social experiment, I re-downloaded the Bumble dating app and have decided to “swipe right” on every match that pops up. For those unfamiliar (and be glad if you are), Bumble is sorta like a more female-friendly version of Tinder. Well, I also assume Tinder is mostly about hook ups (I have never used it, but that’s how it is portrayed). With Bumble, the woman has to make the first move if each of you both have swiped right (if you swipe left, that means you aren’t interested). You have 24 hours to make contact with your match or it disappears and then they have 24 hours to respond or again, it disappears. 

By randomly swiping right on all the men who have popped up, I’ve made way more matches than I would have if I was actually looking at their profiles and picking and choosing. Hey, my family always said I was too picky, so now they can’t say that. Of course, it was mostly my grandmother who said that and she’s been dead for a while now, so if she’s still bitching from beyond the grave that I’m single then those heavenly choirs of angels need to get to work to keep her occupied. I’m just sayin’…

I’ll keep this little experiment going for a while now to see what happens. Once I actually DO match with someone, then I go look at their pictures and profile and see if we have anything at all in common. Location is important too since my last attempt at romance was long distance and we see how well that worked out. *insert appropriately sarcastic face emoji here please* Then I reach out with some idiotic comment about the weather or how is your day. Whatever works to get a conversation going. The trouble is, these folks can’t seem to carry on a conversation back!! Oh believe me, I do make some kind of effort after making first contact (there should be a Star Trek TNG reference here…I just know it…), but much as I can talk and talk and talk, it’s hard to carry on a conversation with someone that gives one-word responses. Do guys really think, as a friend speculated this morning, that they don’t have to make an effort anymore? Egads. And no thanks!

The truth is though, I don't want to meet a man that way. If I am meant to meet and date another one, I just want to meet him like (I think) normal people should meet - in the store or through friends or at church or something like that. I'm sure in today's world it IS normal to meet on-line, but that's not what I want. That's another reason I'll be angry with the guy I was dating longer than perhaps I should be. We were two people who knew each other for quite a while and then decided to get romantic and it worked. For a while, anyway. THAT is the kind of way I want to get involved with someone. Not by swiping right!

Monday, May 15, 2017

There's "Side Boob", There's "Underboob", and Then There's Just "Whole Lotta Boob"

Recently I jokingly promised a friend that I would [try to] title a blog post “There's 'Side Boob', There's 'Underboob', and Then There's Just 'Whole Lotta Boob'”. So here you have that post, although I can’t claim it has anything to do with breasts, per se…or that it doesn’t. Read on and judge for yourself.
Yesterday while scrolling through Netflix, I randomly clicked on the documentary Embrace. It was “recommended” for me and I have no idea what I’ve watched recently that called it up unless the Netflix Gremlins were reading my mind and know how I struggle all the time. Yeah. It was probably the Gremlins. Nasty little buggers.
Embrace is about body imagine and all the things we are told we “should” do or be. How our bodies are “supposed” to look (it’s primarily focused on women, but men obviously deal with this as well) based on what the so-called “experts” (or nasty critics) will say.
I’ve chronicled many times my issues with weight and my body and appearance. Some days are better and then some days...not so much. It’s been over 30 years in some cases, but I remember being called fat and ugly by kids in school. I can still name names, for crying out loud! That’s how much it stuck with me. Sadly.
I loved my mother, but she wasn’t a help in that respect. In my lifetime, she was pretty much always fighting extra pounds. She kept saying I’d grow up to be Miss America. Ummm...yeah. Not likely. My parents never encouraged me to go out and be active or to join a club or sports team at school as a way to be healthy. I’m not sure it even occurred to them. I just remember how trying to eat less and being hungry or drinking Slim Fast shakes seemed like the way you were supposed to lose weight, but there was nothing healthy about that. Nothing at all.
If it seems like I’m a bit body-obsessed (with mine, not yours, although I’m sure yours is very nice), then I am. I know I am and I hate it, but at this point in life I’m not sure I’m ever going to truly be able to shake it. Hopefully though I’m getting better at adapting and not beating myself up all the time.
Chatting with a friend recently, we were discussing different ideas about the best ways to eat for a healthy body and how some things work for one person, but not for another. I said that for me, I guess I just want to have a better relationship with food overall. One in which I stop calling any of it "bad" and eliminating guilt over eating desserts and the like now and then. Food shouldn’t be labeled “good” or “bad”. It should just be food. Food that fuels our bodies and doesn’t torture our spirits quite so much. And sometimes, y’know, comes covered in buttercream frosting...if we’re lucky.
I've never had anything resembling a healthy relationship with my body until maybe last couple of years. It might still be rather warped and twisted, but I’ll be a work-in-progress until I die, so I’m ok with that.
Losing 40 pounds in 2015 made a big difference in my outlook. I don't like equating my happiness with a lower weight, but I *am* happier being at a lower weight and being more active. Period. If part of that happiness comes from seeing a smaller number on the scale, then so be it. I refuse to make myself feel bad for being proud and happy about it (not that anyone has asked me to, mind you).
Then last year I suddenly had to start to know WAY more about my body than I had before. Having to do all the pelvic health physical therapy helped me a lot. I haven’t had the luxury of not thinking about my body and how it functions (or doesn’t function). It’s not as if we all go through life in our bodies and don’t think about them, of course. I mean, we live in them and we’re the first ones to know if there is a problem. But I’ve spent more time understanding and getting to know my body than I might have otherwise and that’s a good thing.
And *whispering…for some strange reason* I was willing to let a man see me naked for the first time in a looong time. Much as I may regret saying it publicly, that also played a part in that body confidence (when I have it…which isn’t all the time, I assure you). That guy made me feel good about my body and gave me a confidence boost when I really needed it. If for no other reason than that, I'm glad he came along.
After all that, guess what?  I finally started to like my body, just as it is. I mean, really, truly like and appreciate it.

Sure, I could be skinnier or not as squishy in places, but my body is also pretty amazing. Plus I've got that "whole lotta boob" from the title and I think they are pretty amazing too, ole Zsa Zsa and Eva. Hey, they're mine and they're real, so I'm gonna go with it (and vow to do my level best to never, ever show either side boob or underboob in a public place). And every now and then, I have this sneaking suspicion that there may be a woman out there, somewhere who looks at me and actually wishes she had MY body.

Wow. Mind blown, but hey, it could be true!
So, I hesitate in trying to change my relationship with food in a bigger way than I already am (trying to eat healthier food with consistency and not beating myself up if I fail sometimes) because I’m doing well right now overall. At least for today. I’ll take it and run with that. One day at a time.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Anxiety Spoils All the Fun

I am an extremely anxious person. I’m not sure if I always have been, but as an adult it definitely materialized and I was diagnosed about 15 years ago with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. When my counselor at the time told me that’s what I was dealing with, I went home and did a search on-line since I had no idea what it really was all about. After that, it was clear she was right. Hello GAD. I am you. You are me. We are one. And then band played on…

WebMD defines Generalized Anxiety Disorder this way: “Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation.” 

The Mayo Clinic web site also has a good list of the mental and physical symptoms of GAD. I can check off many items on that list that I have experienced or still experience. 

I’ve never wondered how I ended up with anxiety issues because, quite frankly, that would just cause me more anxiety trying to figure it out. I was diagnosed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, but I can’t say that was a trigger. At the time, I was living and working in Dubai and had only been there for about 7 months when the attacks happened in the US. I had never lived away from home like that – halfway across the world – and was still having trouble adjusting to life there and making friends. 

When the attacks happened, my panic reflex kicked in and I just wanted to go home. So I did. But months later, after finding a new job and moving to another new city, I was miserable. I couldn’t make connections with anyone no matter how hard I tried (Atlanta is big) and I hated my job. I was all around miserable. The counselor I met with helped me figure some things out and when I moved back home 6 months later, I kept seeing someone for a few weeks to make sure that things really were better and thankfully they were.

But…the anxiety never went away. I worry all the time about what seem like the simplest things. I will rehearse the outgoing message I put on my office voicemail for the days I am out of the office. I want to be sure it sounds “just right” and that the tone of my voice is appropriate. The words are correct.

Driving on the interstate wears greatly on my nerves. I can’t be beside semis without having fear in my heart. Heck, driving period can mess with my head. I have serious car paranoia. I worry if the tires have enough pressure; is the right amount of engine oil in there; will any of the warning lights come on while I am driving. The list goes on and on. 

I bought a new car 3 weeks ago because my old car was having problems (oil leak, which I always worry about, so sometimes I’m not quite so “paranoid” about things) and I still can’t stop worrying about driving it!! I’ve calmed down a bit in the past few weeks, but every day I have to stop myself from checking the tire pressure or the oil and instead pay attention to the roads and other cars and drive the damn thing. 

I had a counseling session yesterday with my current therapist (because the whole vaginismus thing is going to have an anxiety aspect to it as well, but who wants to walk around going, “Hey! I have sexual anxiety!”...although I suppose I just did. Ha!) and had been to the doctor the previous day about some strange hormonal things going on. I told my counselor that I was getting a good laugh at my own expense because I had realized that I am more concerned about my car and it breaking down than I was about my body and the possibility that it is breaking down. I fret over the possibility that someone might hit my new car and total it and then I’ll have to figure out how to pay for it AND another car, but when the doctor goes, “Well, we’ll do an endometrial biopsy and check things and we’re running blood tests to see if you have a thyroid problem” I shrug and go, “Ok. Sure. Ummm…does anyone have cake?” Cause, y’know, I love for cake…priorities and all.

Thankfully, the counselor and I could both find the humor in how I fret over one thing (and I have flippin’ AAA and a 3-year warranty on my car should something start to act up, so there is back-up here), but the other thing is rolling right off of me. It’s not that I’m unconcerned about my health, mind you, I guess it’s just that I live in this body, so I’m the first one to know if something is wrong. I went to the doctor and she agreed that things aren’t normal, so we’re going to work to figure out what’s going on. 

But still, you’d think I’d worry more about my body than the car. I feel like Binkley from the Bloom County comic strips with his Anxiety Closet full of all kinds of craziness. All those things that go bump in the night or keep you awake because your mind simply refuses to shut down and let you rest.
I don’t imagine that my anxiety will quiet down any time soon. It comes and it goes with its severity, but at least I can embrace it to an extent and acknowledge what is going on.

So if you see me some time and I seem oblivious to what is going on around me or cautious or reserved (Ok, stop laughing. I am totally an introvert by nature!) it’s because I’m scared. I’m nervous. (Hellooooo social anxiety!) Am I am going to say and do the right things? Are people going to judge me? What if I go somewhere and nobody wants to talk to me? Did I try too hard? Did I try hard enough? I have literally driven to places and then refused to get out of the car and go inside because I would rather stay home alone and watch TV on a Friday night than to have to force myself into a social situation with strangers. I've done it, but it's also made me miserable at times.

The mind races and I could go on and on about all the ways that anxiety can affect someone, but I think you get the picture. It’s not always a pretty one, but it’s the one I have. Maybe I used finger paints to paint it, but I think maybe I do my best work in the abstract. At least I still try.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Into the Woods

Last night I sat talking with my weekly Bible study/discussion group (over beers, because, y’know, it’s called Beer with Jesus for a reason) and the topic was Jesus in the wilderness when he was being tempted by the devil. Three times Satan tempted him and three times Christ resisted. Heck, I can barely resist temptation once, let alone three times.

Our group discussed times when we felt like we were in the wilderness. Times when we felt like we were being tested and how we handled those times. This morning driving into work I kept thinking about how I feel like I’m entering into a time of being in the wilderness right now. I can feel it, but this time it’s not a crushing or pushing sensation. I don’t feel like the trees are crowding in around me, but I can see them. Can picture them clearly in my mind. I’m walking into the woods; through the woods. I’m sure of it.

Before I knew just what I was going to write about today – or that I was going to write about anything - the title “Into the Woods” sprang to mind. I recall seeing a PBS telecast of the stage production well over 20 years ago now (wasn’t that impressed with the movie) and the prologue has been stuck in my head off and on ever since. 

 The refrain of “into the woods…into the woods” has played through my mind all morning.

Into the woods, it's time to go, I hate to leave, I have to.
Into the woods. It's time and so I must begin my journey.
Into the woods and through the trees, to where I am expected…

“…to where I am expected…” God knows what we’re going through and he knows where we are expected. Even when we do not. Sometimes I wish I could see into the future and then I pause and realize that I really don’t want that. The older I get, the more I appreciate being able to have honest reactions, even if they aren’t always the happiest ones. I’m not sure I’d want to see bad things coming. I’m not sure it would help.

Until last night I don’t think I realized I was heading into the wilderness or “into the woods”. I can pinpoint something that happened last week that feels like the starting point, but really the wheels have been in motion much longer. That seems how it usually goes. Things are building and bubbling under the surface long before they make their presence known. 

Oddly enough, I’ve been remarkably calm about the crises and problems that seem to be popping up all at once and that’s really not my standard MO. I feel like I’m a person who panics and gets stressed out at every little thing. I often joke that I’m paranoid about things – car troubles, appliance issues, health problems, money worries…you name it, I always feel that I overthink things and worry oh, so much. 

Interestingly (to me, anyway), one woman in the group last night was dumbfounded when I said I wasn’t naturally a calm person. That I usually freak out when things seemingly go wrong. She said she’d never have guessed that and when I said I suffer from anxiety issues, she started to question her ability to read people. Apparently I have a great poker face.

What followed is another lesson in perspective for me. I see myself one way and I have learned in the past year that it is quite often a one-eighty from what other people see. I’m pretty confident in who I am – or who I think I am – and then I hear from someone else that that is not at all who they perceive me to be. God has sent many messages my way the past couple of weeks about perspective, but I’m still piecing it all together as to just what it means. I may never know, but at least I am pausing a lot more to consider the possibilities.

The way is clear, the light is good. I have no fear, nor no one should.
The woods are just trees, the trees are just wood.

“The trees are just wood.” The trees are simply there. Merely set pieces or props in the theater of our lives. They can’t hurt me. They are simply there and we’ll pass by them all on the journey and move on. Move forward.
Into the woods and down the dell, the path is straight, I know it well.
Into the woods, and who can tell what's waiting on the journey?
“Who can tell what’s waiting on the journey?” Well. That says it, I think. Or it at least says a lot. Who can ever tell what is waiting for us just around the corner. I had no idea that I had a healthissue coming last year until I hit that brick wall and realized something was wrong.  I wasn’t planning on getting a new (or new-to-me) car any time soon until the mechanic said I’d be better off buying a new car than pouring a huge sum of money into repairing the one I already have. I have to make a trip tomorrow and I know where I’m going – meaning I know the physical location of the building and in what city – but I don’t know what may happen during that journey.

Into the woods without delay, but careful not to lose the way.
Into the woods, who knows what may be lurking on the journey?
Into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journeying.
Into the woods…
So that’s where I am today. I’m heading into the woods. Heck, I may already be a ways down the path since I only realized less than 24 hours ago that I was in a wilderness period. But for the first time I can recall, I don’t feel like the trees are closing in on me. I don’t feel like I’m in the middle of a dark forest where I can’t find my way. Oh, that may happen the further I head into the woods (I have no idea how many times I’ve used that phrase and refuse to go back and count), but right now when I close my eyes I see the woods around me, but the path is wide and the light is bright. I know I have to go through the wilderness to get to the other side. There’s no way to avoid it. The journey is not always joyous. It is not always easy and I don’t believe this one will be all hearts and flowers either, but I am so appreciative of the peace I feel inside – the peace that I know is from God – that is helping me stand up tall and move forward.
“Into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journey.”