unstuck

The past few weeks or so have been pretty chaotic.  I’ve been working for a new client that needed a bunch of people in about 2 weeks.  I was able to hit my goal.  They’re evaluating the results and making decisions next week.  Overall, it’s been one of the most productive and successful work projects I’ve ever been on.  I guess I felt like I had a lot to prove.  I had a new boss, new clients to win over for my company, and stuff to prove to myself.  It was nice to go back to my old stomping grounds, but in a totally new way–but it also came with a lot of pressure.  I knew how important it was if I was going to stay here for more than a quick bunny hop.

The good news was that I did everything I set out to do, and then some.  I’m actually really proud of myself.  My boss is happy.  The clients are happy.  My company is happy.  I’m happy.  More opportunities are opening up for me.  Whether I want those opportunities or not?  I’m not so sure.  But I feel like I’m in a good place, in most ways, career-wise.

I had a bit of a crisis this week, though, as I had opportunities flying at me.  Namely, what do I want to do–short-term and long-term?

The work stuff has never been easy for me.  I seem to always feel unsure until I feel sure, and then something will catch me.  And then, I’m back to square one.  I always feel like I should be doing everything.  I have so many interests–and I’m good at a lot of things.  I don’t like limiting myself.  Which makes committing hard.  But it also makes change hard–though I’m good with change.  My job right now is all about it.  Few things here are really stable.  Which is good for me in terms of providing me with stimulation and keeping me interested.  But it’s bad because there’s a real part of me that HATES instability.  I have two sides to me–one that is very much my father…the big dreamer, nomadic soul that wants to be free.  And then, there’s that little girl that lived in utter chaos.

I got into this particular industry because I saw some needs in myself.  I knew that I needed more freedom.  I wanted to be able to work from anywhere.  I wanted to have flexibility.  I wanted to be able to move on when I wasn’t feeling stuff.  I know from past experience that–even the best job can be terrible if you have a bad client.  Here–I’m not stuck.  If something doesn’t work, I can choose something else.  It may mean waiting for something else to show up–and it often means I don’t earn as much money as I’m worth–but it’s not a bad trade off.  The bad part is that I’m always needing to prove myself.  I have a good reputation, but–every new project–it’s brand new.  Or I’ve established a reputation that means I can’t slow down.

This situation is particularly challenging for me because–while I truly do thrive in chaos–it’s a costly thriving.  I’m so at home in chaos.  I’m a pro at cleaning up messes.  I lived that life for so long.  But my ways of dealing with it–of thriving and coping–really bring out unhealthy things in me.  What’s worse is that these things in me really are kind of necessary to deal with what I deal with every day.

I’ve always been a perfectionist.  This situation makes that perfectionist side come out like no other.  I can’t just be adequate.  I have to blow goals out of the water–be the absolute best.  I take pride in myself for that.  I’m also a control freak in these situations–which is often exhibited in the perfectionist thing.  I can’t control anyone except myself.  So, I do that by working harder than everyone else.  I do that by being perfect.  I can handle anything and not freak out–like most people do–when I’m in this mode.  Which has led people to truly be in awe of me.  And it also leads people to dump their stuff on me.  Like when they’re freaking out, they reach out to me for reassurance.  The problem with that is that I’m super sensitive to other people’s stuff.  If you’re stressed, I’m so sympathetic that I’ll be more stressed than you–for you.  When that happens, it activates my inner rescuer–and suddenly your battle is mine.  I’m Ms. Fix It All.  But really, I’m trying to stop it from hurting me.

All of the above could be manageable if it didn’t lead to really crappy behaviors.  When I’m like this, I come last.  It doesn’t matter how I feel.  I tend to drink a lot of coffee and caffeinated beverages to get through the day.  I tend to lock myself away and fill up my schedule.  I don’t go outside or get much exercise.  I forget to take meds and drink water.  I can’t relax or sleep.  I don’t see friends or do anything creative.

I’ve identified all of these things as basic building blocks for my mental and physical health.  In the past 2 weeks or so, this has been me to a scary degree.

This is me throwing myself under the bus.  And it sucks.

Right now, after fixing another crisis, I’m on the other side of the project that pretty much obliterated me.  I was supposed to be on the other side a few days ago…but then crap happened.  So, clean up!

Friday was ugly.  I’ve been battling a cold or virus or something.  I haven’t been sleeping well.  My emotions are pretty gnarly.  And I’m still struggling with self-care.

I decided to work from Boulder because I had a couple of appointments–essential to my health–that I’d been putting off.  I got up early, but it was snowing and there were delays.  A holy crap degree of fog made visibility zero on my alternate route.  And it was pretty wet.  I’d researched all kinds of options–decent coffee shops, co-working spaces–the library.  I was excited to be out of the house and around people!  I have really wanted to do this often–because, as much as I love the flexibility of my job–I’ve never actually worked away from home while doing this job.  That’s kind of a crime.

Boulder is a nice little town with pretty good coffee, lots of nature, and an interesting vibe.  Unfortunately, it suffers from massive parking issues downtown–at least whenever I’m there.  Since I’m driving in from Denver, it’s not a good deal.  I don’t mind paying to park–but I really don’t want to hike around with my laptop from far-off reaches of the county.  Every time I’ve been to Downtown Boulder lately, I simply can’t find parking anywhere.  It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is.  Maybe it’s just me and where I’m going, but it’s been a massive pain in my ass.  I went to six different places and could not find parking within a reasonable walking distance.  In some cases, there were open spots–but they were illegal to park there if you weren’t a city employee.

I had things to do.  I was already running late.  I’d brought a device with me to help me get online–just in case.  So, I felt like–worst case, I could work from my car.  But I had to park somewhere.  I finally gave up and decided to get away from downtown.  I finally found parking, but when I went inside, there were no seats!  Lots of annoying parents and kids, though.  What was worse?  My back-up plan wasn’t working because my device couldn’t get 4G.  This has never been an issue.  I ended up driving to a mall parking lot under a tower–thinking, surely, I’ll be able to get something here.  Nope.  I ended up setting up a wireless hotspot on my phone…only, by now, my phone was almost dead.  My laptop wasn’t too happy either.

Luckily, I was able to get my work done.  But–man–it was not a nice morning.

Boulder was exceptionally pretty, though.  Autumn is prettier there than here in Denver.  I wish I had more time to explore it.  You’d never guess there was a thousand year flood a month ago.

For a second, I really wished I lived there.  Taking care of me would be a lot easier.  And I get to do this every 2 weeks.

###

Luckily, there were zero parking issues when I visited my therapist and naturopath.  I never have parking issues where they are–quiet, idyllic neighborhoods with nice people walking dogs.  This is the Boulder I enjoy.  It’s quieter, but much more me than the bustling downtown streets that give me anxiety.

I never thought I’d say that about a cul-de-sac.

This was my first time meeting with this therapist.  She was included in a directory my naturopath was featured in–through a nonprofit that deals with people in the throes of grief.  I looked up her Web site, saw she’d studied at the school I almost applied to, saw her art therapy and Buddhist background, and thought it might be a decent match.  The first visit was free, to see if we meshed.

While I’ve wanted to be an art therapist for a while, my experience with therapy has been almost nonexistent–though I believe in it and know I need it.  We probably all do.  It’s unfortunate that so many people think therapy is just for the massively broken.  When various relationships ended, I recall exes attacking me with declarations that I “really should see a therapist.”  As if I didn’t seem to think that already.  As if they didn’t need one, too.  As if that was some parting shot that would ruin my self-esteem.  People we used to love can sometimes massively suck.  Telling someone to get therapy is not a loving thing–especially when you’re part of the reason they probably would benefit from it!

Still, despite those little barbs, I always wanted to get therapy.  For years and years and years, I wanted to do it.  But there were obstacles.  Therapy is expensive.  Insurance usually doesn’t cover it, or the therapists don’t take insurance.  In Denver, it’s really hard to find a therapist.  A lot of them are super unprofessional or not taking new clients.  I’ve usually worked jobs where taking a long lunch to get my therapy on just wasn’t feasible.  So, I had to have later hours or weekend options.  That’s not even a possibility.  When I did find someone who fit that bill, we didn’t mesh.  I didn’t go back.

For me, for most of my life, I’ve been my own therapist.  I’ve leaned on friends and loved ones to some degree.  But mostly, I got through things myself–through trial and error.  It began with writing, morphed into art, and then travel/nature/photography.  Only recently did I start reading about things and seriously studying psychology for my own benefit.

All of this is what got me started thinking about how I’d practice and the need for workshops and etc.  It’s how I got into the ideas I’ve been working on.

Anyway, now that I’m in a more flexible job, I can do things during the day.  I just move my lunch to cover it.  It’s still expensive, but I can do it–and it’s worth it to me.  Not because anyone said I should do it–but because I need help.  I don’t have all the answers.

###

My new therapist is a tiny woman with an expressive face.  She’s an artist and a writer.  She’s also a Buddhist and a shaman.  She burns incense.  She went to my favorite therapy school, teaches at Naropa, and mentors new therapists.

I like her.

We talked about who I am/my goals, and I must’ve felt safe–because I totally started crying.  She didn’t judge me.  I was able to be completely honest.  I wasn’t worried about being a burden.  That’s a rare thing for me.  So, I knew–without hesitation–that we could do good work together.  She practices the way I would.  I like that she can provide me with some insight about therapy as a profession–since I’m still wondering if I should do it.  She approaches it from a whole heart sort of way, so I’d like to have a few discussions about that.

She recognized that I’m an artist, at my core–that I love helping people and have a real gift for that.  She knew I was intuitive and maybe a little bit psychic.  She knew a lot about me right away–which was kind of scary and awesome.

The thing that blew me away, though?  She actually asked me how I got so healthy–in spite of all the tools I lacked.  Me?  Healthy?  What?

I told her I didn’t think I was healthy.  And she countered with her evidence of it.  That I was incredibly self-aware–that I knew what I felt and why I felt those things–that I had an idea of what I needed to do that was dead-on.  My problem–really–was just getting unstuck.

Pretty much.

We had a good conversation about expression–about how I’ve always used it, but then it becomes a “so what?” kind of thing.  I need help taking all that expression and using it to move forward.  I get stuck.  Plain and simple.

###

I went to my naturopath a little later in the day.  My naturopath is so non-judgmental and calm.  A real healer personality.  But whenever I’ve been absent for a few weeks, I end up feeling guilty.  And the absence always comes with me not taking care of myself.  So, I always feel awkward.  I know she picks up on that right away.  We had a really good talk about the things I’ve been struggling with lately.  She thinks I need to change jobs–that the one I have just isn’t good for me.  That it supports the things I most struggle with.  She’s absolutely right.  I told her I’m working on it.

She feels like my liver is stronger, but the rest of my digestive organs are still in crisis.  All of the symptoms I’ve been having lately point to it.  And my liver is really causing me to crave things that will comfort it but will pretty much mess up my body.  I tend to beat myself up for making poor diet choices, when–in reality–my body is making it very hard to say no.

That’s not an excuse.  I still have choices, but I need tools.

So, we’re starting a new regimen today.  And I’m making massive changes to my diet again.

Small meals. High protein and fiber.  Absolutely no gluten.  Almost no dairy.  No iced beverages or super-cold foods.  Those are the rules.  When my organs aren’t so temperamental, I get to do a cleanse for a month.  I’m looking forward to it just because I feel like stuff is stuck.  My naturopath agrees.  She thinks my poorly functioning digestive system is just not flowing properly.

So, basically, like my emotional state and etc, I’m stuck. (Which didn’t that happen with my gall bladder, too?)  That’s my key issue in all areas of my life.  I accumulate things, and things get stuck–which causes crisis and pain.

I’m taking some of the same homeopathic things I’ve been taking–only at higher dosages.  This kind of scares me because, when I first started on this stuff, my emotions went a bit woo-woo.  It pretty much cracks you wide open.  Anything that’s been stored in your body comes out–usually through anger or flat-out breakdowns.  So, that should be fun!  She said it should help a lot with self-care and establishing boundaries.  Here’s to hoping.

I’m also doing some custom-crafted Chinese herbs that are really mostly for the body stuff.  I already know it’s gonna taste bad.  And continuing with my enzymes–which tastes like cow sweat.  I get to come off the liver stuff soon, though.

We did acupuncture, too, and–man, I so needed it.  It hurt a lot and I bled, which usually happens when I push back appointments.  The worst was my third eye, spleen, and my appetite, and stress areas.  The points for appetite and stress actually throbbed throughout the session–which never happens–and it felt like the needles were still in me hours later.  So–yea–I kinda needed that.

I always feel calmer and more energetic after my appointments.  Which was good since the drive home was stressful.  I ended up passing out right after dinner and pretty much slept throughout the night.  I forgot to take my enzymes at dinner, so stupid bile reflux decided I needed to wake up.

Usually, the day after acupuncture feels like I’ve suffered a bad hangover.  And yep–pretty much.  I was thinking of going thrifting today…but probably not.  I’m thinking swimming and movies.  With more sleep in a minute.

Happy weekend, y’all.

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