‘Cause I’m a warrior. I fight for my life like a soldier all through the night. And I won’t give up, I will survive. I’m a warrior. And I’m stronger, that’s why I’m alive. I will conquer, time after time. I’ll never falter, I will survive. I’m a warrior.Warrior – Avril Lavigne
Before I begin this post, everyone must check out Avril Lavigne’s new album Head Above Water. I am obssessed (minus track 5, Dumb Blonde). After you read my post, go check it out! P.S. Thanks babe for getting me this kick ass album for Christmas!
I’m not even sure where to start this post. For the past several weeks, I have been dealing with a lot which is why I haven’t posted in almost a month. I told myself that I would stay strong, stay positive, and to continue to be grateful but it’s getting to be more difficult each day. I lost a dear friend to cancer on Christmas day and my uncle, who is one of my most favorite people on this planet, is severely struggling with advanced stage brain cancer. He survived a nearly fatal motocycle accident at 19 where he lost a kidney. He survived kidney cancer several years ago in which half of his remaining kidney was removed. And a little over two years ago, he beat lymphoma like it was literally nothing. So, I am beyond angry with the universe. My uncle loves life. He is a genuine, big hearted, goofball and one of the coolest guys I know. He is one of the reasons why I have such an intense love for 80’s hair bands and glam rock and 90’s pop rock. I could write pages and pages of the bond we share but there are not enough words in the universe that could do it justice. On top of all of this, I am in one of the most difficult trimesters for school by far.
So, what can I say about how I’m feeling? I have gone through so much loss, I feel like I should be use to it by now. But, I know that is unrealistic. Some days, I feel flat, numb, nothing. Other days, I feel euphoric, silly, and joyful. I feel like I am going back and forth between two extremes. One part of me is trying to process and handle these events in a healthy way through acknowledging my feelings, daily meditation, keeping a gratitude journal, continuing regular therapy and acupuncture sessions and going for walks. The other side of me is checking out, saying fuck it, throwing all my self-care out the window, and falling back into negative emotional states that lead to bad habits.
The good news? I am still sober. I haven’t even thought about picking up a drink. The bad news? That urge to check out is manifesting as other unhealthy coping mechanisms. And the silver lining is that I have been able to keep myself in a sort of limbo and I’m realizing all of this early on.
The thing about self-care is that I don’t even realize it’s going to hell or that I am self-sabotaging until after the fact. It starts off small and then snowballs. What I am about to write is me processing all of this in real time as I write this. So, here is what happens when I am dealing with what feels like an insurmountable amount of stress and when I stop my self-care practices…
I stop taking my herbs (I stopped taking them 2 weeks ago). Not taking herbs might not sound that bad but I use herbs (and acupuncture) instead of medication. My herbs help eradicate my mood swings and keep my mood stable. Otherwise, I will experience anxiety to the point where I disassociate, or I enter a state of manic euphoria which sounds awesome but is actually quite detremental, or I enter into a state of apathetic depression which is equally as destructive as the mania. I vascillate through all three of these moods, unpredicatably and it’s just not fun.
I do not eat in a healthy manner. I will binge eat until I feel disappointed, disgusted, physically sick, and overly full. Then I will eat just enough food to keep me from passing out. The binging usually lasts a couple days, the not eating usually lasts 3 to 5 days. It’s been a coping mechanism that I wasn’t aware of until a few months ago and was doing well dealing with it and correcting it, until two days ago. Relapse can take many forms and I threw in the towel as far as my eating habits. The other day, I ate until I almost thew up from being so full and then I kept eating.
Intimacy with regard to sex is fucked (crazy word play, right?) which causes me to feel shameful, detached, and upset. This area of self-care is a difficult one for me more so than anything else and it’s something that I’ve been conscious of and have been working on especially since getting sober. As I’ve previously mentioned, in addition to my sexual assault expereinces, the majority of my “normal” sexual expereinces were extremely negative and my perceptions of my own sexuality and sexual relationships were dysfunctional in the past causing me to have issues with sexual intimacy. Well, since being with Josh and especially since getting sober and being with Josh, I have worked on creating healthy attitudes and thoughts about sex and intimacy. I’ve been able to be in my body fully, emotionally connect with Josh, and really enjoy those experiences which has been a giantic part of my healing… but not today. I checked out 100% emotionally during our intimate time together. For the past several weeks, I haven’t felt that great being in my body and dealing with all of these emotions; mostly I’ve felt sad, angry, and numb. I’ve just wanted to check out. I’m not sure what the breaking point was today but I defaulted to my old coping mechanism of feeling physically but not emotionally during sex. No attachment. No intimacy. No connection. No oneness, if you will. Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it but the driving motivations were not to be in partnership. Being in that headspace makes me feel incredibly disconnected from Josh, upset and shameful towards myself, and I didn’t talk to him about it so I feel even worse off than before. So, really…what kind of coping mechanism is that?
So, it seems like I just straight up ignored some of my own red warning signs. The good thing is that I’m catching myself now at the beginning rather than ignoring everything until it all really unravels. Obviously, current life events are taking a toll on me physically, emotionally/mentally, and spiritually. Due to these events, my self-care is taking a back seat which is negatively affecting my mood, motivation, and sense of will power. And all of this endangers my sobriety.
The way I see it, I have two options. I can either continue to feed the dark and spiral down which leads absolutely nowhere and is a waste of time and energy or I can feed the light and actively work through it all, building my resilience and awareness. I am human and I am not perfect. I will stumble. I do need to congratulate myself on the fact that drinking was not even a thought in my mind as a way to cope with all of this! I also need to allow myself to be sad, angry, frustrated, apathetic, etc. I can’t ignore or numb out those feelings and I can’t give into them either. I need to give myself adequate time to process without dwelling. And if I find I’m dwelling, I need to reach out. I need to accept I may not get through it seamlessly, quickly, and effortlessly, but I will get through it.
I must mention too, that I am working on percieving death differently now that I did before and that comes from my schooling. We discuss how death is not finite. It is not the end, rather it is a transition. We discuss the beauty of nature, oneness, and the spirit/souls of all living creatures and how all life comes to an end. Death can seem so unfair and while it doesn’t make death any easier to accept, it does provide a different perspective. I wrote a poem when I was 18 about death that I want to share. I hope you enjoy…
Funny Guy He always wears a long, tattered, worn, black coat. He is taller than average with dark, hallow, eyes that gleam like dying stars. His hair is blacker than coal and never messy. His skin is pale, and has an iridescent, transparent glow like a ghost. He likes to play tricks on people like an innocent child. But then again he can be dead serious. He likes to watch people but doesn’t like to be watched himself. So he plays hide and seek among the shadows. He can get angry and mean like a rabid, snarling dog and take it out on you. But then there are times when he is calm and quiet. He’s gentle and kind. He is always in control, unless you catch him off guard. He is very unpredictable and you never know when you’ll get the chance to meet. He likes to make people cry, myself included. But then I can’t help but laugh. My relationship with him is a double-edge sword. I will never understand him, but then again, no one else will either. He is in my life a lot; he seems to be attracted to me somehow and I am fascinated with him. I think he wants to see how long I can bend before I break. My connection with him is intertwined like barbed wire on a towering, chain-linked fence. I am speechless when we meet, time and time again. The only words he allows me to softly whisper are… “Death, you are a funny guy."