Just Friends, Again

“Let’s just be friends” says another
That makes #4 this year
I’m not even mad anymore
I’m just tired.

What they thought they’d seen
Wasn’t fully me
Just a one side
A simple misconception

Take the time
Look deeper
Past the surface
Beyond the silliness

Darkness and light
Pain behind a smile
Joy mixed with sadness
Many sides to one soul

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CRAVE

In August, I have a photo shoot planned. I booked it back in March. I’ve met the photographer and she is wonderful. I am hella nervous anytime I think about it. Why? What I’m having done is called “intimate portraiture” or boudoir photography. It’s the CRAVE experience from R2 Studios, located in Flagstaff, AZ. They’re a great group of women and I honestly am excited about the experience. Now, this experience can be tailored to whatever the client wants and if getting pictures in your skivvies is not what you want, you don’t have to. I still don’t know what I am going to wear or who I want to be for this shoot. I was thinking about clothes and kicking around ideas the other day. I’m getting a new tattoo (something I do when I’m sad) and I’m thinking of ways to show that off as well as the older ones I have. I honestly don’t know if I’ll do many in my undies but I definitely want to find a cropped black leather biker jacket and probably some tall boots. Their style consultant will call me next month and we’ll discuss ideas so maybe I’ll have a better vision at that point. I’ve been hesitant to tell people I have this shoot coming up. My reasons behind booking it are pretty personal and the last thing I want is to hear ridicule or be classed as that pathetic, middle aged woman who needs to feel young again. My reasons are a bit more deeply seeded that just needing to feel young again. I need to feel “worth” something again because I haven’t felt valued in a long time. I want to have a day where it’s all about me and people actually care, and not just because they’re being polite or it’s their job and they’re being paid to care.

I booked this as a way to bet me out of my self-hate cycle. I’ve been struggling with liking myself physically and mentally. I’ have never felt like one of the “pretty girls” and I certainly have never been one of the cool kids. I’m a little awkward sometimes and I get very excited around cool people. That feeling may not always be reciprocated though and then I feel very embarrassed for reaching out in the first place. I feel like I can be a massive annoyance to everyone around me much of the time, especially when I’m in a funk and need to talk. When I’m not doing well mentally, this feeling of being an absolute bother is magnified by about 50%. From this bad place, I often feel like I need to apologize for just being myself. Like, it’s not OK to be me, “why am I here?” and maybe I should just go away…. When new people follow me on social media, I feel like I need to add this disclaimer to my account: “I post lots of random nonsense from my life but mostly pictures of my dog. You’ve been warned”. But seriously though, what’s wrong with loads of dog pictures?? He’s freaking awesome and quite a handsome boy!

Other steps towards getting out of the self-hate cycle have included doing nice things for myself. I got my hair cut last week. This week I’m getting my eyebrows tinted this Thursday (so it looks like I actually have some!) and next month, I’m getting my hair colored professionally. I would do a facial but I have a difficult time when people touch my face and I hate using products on my face. I hardly use any makeup and I struggle to put on sunscreen because it feels very yucky for the first 2 minutes. In my interview with the photographer, the first thing I told her was, “I kinda suck at being a girl”, and that statement still rings true! I’m trying to make little steps towards doing taking care of myself better, for the long haul.

On a side note, I’ve been able to go 3 days without washing my hair. I’ve tried to do this in the past and have failed, due to my hypersensitivity to filth, smells, and sensations. However, with a bit of guidance from my stylist, I managed to do it. I’m on day 4 and my hair doesn’t feel disgusting, much to my surprise. I think I’ve turned a corner and I’m pretty happy about that. As a kid, I hated having sticky hands. I hated having my hair touched or played with (which my mom would do during church, “because it’s so soft!”. It drove me nuts.). I realize these little victories may seem pretty insignificant or ridiculous to someone who doesn’t understand or have the same tenancies.

Better hair care, skin care, increasing exercise, having a better diet and actually getting massages are the things I’m striving to do for myself. If I don’t take care of myself and treat myself with disregard, others will follow suit. My physical health, mental health and overall well-being starts with me.

The Therapeutic Relationship

The relationship a massage therapist has with clients is a peculiar one. I was discussing this with a friend the other day. I was telling her I was missing a few of my regular clients. Folks who’d schedule with me every two weeks or every week, without fail, had dropped off my schedule. If you’ve ever been my client and you’ve shared a bit about your life with me, I care about ya. Simple as that. If you drop off my schedule, I hope you’re feeling good in your body and I hope if you’re not getting bodywork from me, you’re getting it from somewhere.

In school, we were taught to maintain our client’s privacy. So for example, if we see them out in the store, I can smile but we are told to keep the fact that this is a client on the low down. I reminds me of a doctor/patient relationship or psychotherapist/client relationship in that we know things about you but we can’t act like we do. I know my client’s life stresses and where they hold tension. I learn about their traumatic injuries. I see their scars. I can sense the unseen scars too. I hear about their hobbies. I hear about their travels and learn about their families…. I know where they have tattoos! Sometimes I am told the history of those tattoos too. It’s a very intimate, platonic, unique and wonderful relationship.

Where I work, the clients aren’t “my” clients. They belong to the chain spa, meaning if I want to contact a client to see how they’re doing, I am not allowed. So, if you suddenly drop off my schedule, I will thinking about you. I’ll be hoping that stressful work situation you told me about resolves in a positive way. I’ll be hoping your new business venture is a success and I’ll be wondering if you every got your back piece done. I’ll wonder and hope your world is full of joy and happiness. You are not a paycheck to me. You are a magnificent, unique person. I truly appreciate each client who puts their trust in me.

Breakups suck

So, I got dumped yesterday. I knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when. How did I know? Because it was never supposed to be a “relationship”. It was supposed to be just a booty call. That is how Tinder usually works after all, isn’t it? However, I don’t quite know how to separate my emotional side from the physical act so, I became the booty call that wouldn’t go away. I got attached, I cared deeply, I even nearly said the “L” word on many occasions (and meant it). I cared. He cared. However, timing, life and out-of-my-control circumstance were not in my favor. And so, with sadness, I was finally told that he wanted us to be “just friends”.

These things happen and it’s OK. I did learn some valuable lessons and they are as follows:

1. Everyone needs empathy and understanding because you never know what burdens another is carrying.
2. Believe what you are told up front (about the willingness to commit), it was the truth.
3. I cannot love someone into being with me, they have to make that leap for themselves.
4. Despite my sadness, I would not trade the memories and experiences for anything.
5. Always say what you feel in your heart (or write it in a letter), even if it’s difficult and even if you think it won’t be well received.
6. Be kind.

I told my oldest (adult) son that I’d been dumped. His response was, “Do we need to break some kneecaps?”! While I don’t condone violence, this made me feel quite loved and cared for in an odd sort of way! I don’t wish ill or misfortune upon the man who dumped me either. I actually sent him a letter, which should arrive in a few days, stating the opposite. I have no idea if it will be well received but I couldn’t let what was in my heart go unsaid. I’m funny like that.

2018-A look back at my progress

It is January 1st, 2019. This is the day where a lot of people are considering their resolutions for the new year. To be quite honest, the end of the year kinda snuck up on me. I hadn’t thought of any goals I wanted to achieve in 2019, apart from hopefully getting my own place sometime in this new year. Also, finding a job by which I can fully support myself is also a big goal for this year. I’m thankful for those who have helped support me emotionally and financially over this past year, truly. Without them, I would have not made it very far.

This past week I’ve been reflecting back on how much I changed over the course of 2018. On Jan 21st, 2018 I started massage school. It’s hard to put into words a summary of my experiences in massage school. I made vlogs throughout my time in school and a week ago, I deleted all but 4 of them. Looking back on the different stages I went through during school was uncomfortable and painful, but often growth is. It was quite freeing to delete those vlogs because I didn’t want the reminder of where I’d been. I am, most definitely, looking forward.

I finished with massage school on Aug 16th, 2018. I skipped graduation and it felt amazing to do so. It was the first step towards doing what I needed for myself despite pressure from others. I also left school with miniscule self confidence, which was surprising. In the weeks after school, I searched for a job. On Aug 31st 2018, I was hired on at Lowe’s and I’m still employed there. My confidence has been restored and that confidence has trickled over into other areas of my life.

One thing I’ve struggled with for YEARS has been good boundaries and holding others to treating me well. If I don’t respect myself and demand that I am treated with courtesy, respect and decency, no one else will. In the not so distant past, I used to be a real bleeding heart, being emotionally involved in everyone else’s turmoil or struggle. I have noticed a marked change in myself recently and it has been a welcome surprise. I am aware that I cannot “save” everyone around me nor does everyone want this from me. Sometimes, I need to just back the hell off and not be involved. In doing so, it does not make me an uncaring person, it makes me a person with good boundaries. A big part of what I’ve learned is this: I cannot love someone into loving me. No matter how much I give of myself, it will not change their heart nor will it make events play into my favor. I have to take care of me first and just allow the rest to simply be. It’s no reflection on me or my value if someone doesn’t love me back. That has been a difficult but valuable lesson which I’ve learned this past year.

I also realize that how much or how little I give does not influence how favorably others feel towards me. I’m finally able to set better¬† boundaries from this epiphany. Granted, this is still a work in progress but I feel my awareness is stronger now and I’m in a much better place mentally and emotionally than at the start of 2018. This is the one thing I am thankful for the most.

Much of 2018 was filled with growing pains and tough decisions. It’s been a rough road but I’ve survived. I am looking forward to the new year. I know my evolution is not finished but I feel strong as I type this post.

 

Happy 2019 everyone. I truly wish you all they very best this new year has to offer.

World Mental Health Awareness Day 2018

Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day! I found this out from a post on Twitter. Thank you, social medial. You keep this little hermit crab in-the-know.

I’ve written a lot about mental health on this blog. I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m a therapy alumni, have had depression and have had anxiety. The conversation about mental health is an important one. The bias towards mental health issues still exists, which is unfortunate.

Last week, I had anxiety every day. I don’t get it often and I haven’t had it for a while. It comes out of nowhere and I don’t know what triggers it. I tried to vlog about it but that wasn’t working. I would get this feeling of dread in my chest and it felt hard to breathe. Every muscle felt tense, especially my back and legs. I ached all over. I felt like I’d worked out when in reality, I’d just stood at a register most of the day or did nothing at all (as it happened on my days off too).

I have felt increased stress working the customer service desk. I had this fear I’d be put back up there, with the ringing phones. Having to answer the phone while doing a transaction is stressful. Especially if the person you’ve transferred the call to doesn’t pick up and it rings back several times. This makes the person on the line angry and they can get nasty after a while. I have found I do not thrive in this sort of environment. There is too much happening at once and my body stays in “fight” mode hours after my shift is finished. Realizing the effect this sort of stress has on my body, I applied for a floor position to get away from this environment. I got the position and in a week I should be in my new position.

Recently I talked to someone about this anxiety I’d been experiencing. The response was disappointing, one of someone with a negative bias towards mental health issues and not what I expected from this particular person as they have also experienced anxiety.

Nonetheless, it got me thinking about how important it is to support those going through something that I/we may not understand. I was thinking about nature vs. nurture and how our unique experiences shape us. Two people can be placed in the same environment and they can react differently to the same trauma. Some people tend to thrive under intense stress, others are crushed by it. This does not make one person stronger than the other, it means we’re different. We all react differently to adversity and process differently based on our collective experiences, upbringing and biology. All of us. Reacting poorly or struggling with a situation does not make you a whiner or a”victim”. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to coping skills or tools. It’s not “all in your head’ nor should you compare your experience to another’s struggles. We all have obstacles. Depression, anxiety or any other mental health diagnosis is not a sign of weakness. People with a mental health diagnosis’ are not broken either. They/We just process things a little differently and that’s fine.

For me, my focus has been realizing my triggers. A better understanding of how I tick helps me process stresses in a healthier fashion instead of reacting to them. This endeavor is a work in progress, like always. I must say, despite a few setbacks this year, I am feeling more confident, more positive and happier overall. The difficult changes I’ve made in my life are paying off and for that I am truly thankful.

Dear Mother Nature (an angry poem)

**This came to me in the shower, as I prepared for my workday. Sometimes, I sing in the shower. Other times, I channel Dr. Seuss. 

 

Dear Mother Nature, I think you’re a cunt! Mother Nature exclaimed, “Why for and for what?!?!” Today marks the first day of my monthly bleeding. With high emotions, cramps and malaise soon proceeding.

I don’t have time for this nonsense! Could we invent a switch? A switch which keeps me flipping from “princess” to “bitch”?? A switch which magically shuts off the flow. Seriously, I have places to go. I have places to go and better things to do. And why, oh why must my bowels get involved too?!

I have work today and I cannot ditch! To do otherwise would be remiss. Beside my register, I shall sit. I am chained. Held by an invisible chain. Beside my post, I must remain. With bathrooms 10 yards away. I shall clinch my butt cheeks and pray. I pray that I don’t pass gas. I pray my muscle tone will hold fast. Surely this discomfort will not last, that long. Hopefully I am not wrong. I must be strong.