|Hanging out with a fostered kitten.|
I have been practicing over this past summer and fall this process where I tune in every five minutes or whenever I remember during the day. I ask myself, “How do you feel?” Then I name the emotion and ask myself “Why do you feel like this?” Then I would give the reason, and the emotion would go through me and release. There it went, gone. And I was free to move on with my daily activities until I felt rumpled and would check in again. Quite an experience for a chronic emotion bottler. It still feels odd, like I just stole a bar of chocolate out of a friend’s cupboard and am sitting crouched in a dark walk in closet savoring each delicious bite, hoping nobody will discover me and my hidden luxury. It felt taboo, but really good. Which goes to show, perhaps, how misinformed I have been for quite some time of the healthiness of such a habit like owning an emotion and freely expressing it. It isn’t a punishable past time, and I don’t have to be ashamed of my emotions. Nobody’s gonna get me and beat me for indulging in this routine, even though I sure did have that fear for quite some time… internalized and woven deep in my psyche. Now I know better. Now I know it’s healthy and ok to do this.
So, I am on a journey of honoring the self. I went to my third chiropractic appointment the other day. I am quite stoked to be committed to self care on a regular basis. After the first two visits, it felt like I was stirring up a mad bee’s nest of pain though, as the treatment honestly hurt like the dickens in the office, and continued in this manner for days afterward. The doctor was pressing on my trigger points so hard I kept wincing, and the myofacial release wasn’t the most pleasant sensation. On reflecting back now, I don’t think I remember checking in with myself the first couple weeks of treatment to evaluate my own view of the situation.
The morning of my third appointment, I woke up feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck. Dang it! But I was determined to be a trooper. At the last minute, I brewed some coffee and poured it in my handy travel mug for the road. Fast forward to the point where I am getting out of the car and walking into the chiropractor lobby. The ground began to roll under my feet, I went green in the face and had to make a run to the loo. Trembling, shaking, what was going on? This used to be my everyday normal, but the last six months this has rarely happened.
So I dragged myself up to the receptionist and whispered that I didn’t feel well. Stumbled out the door, and my sister was waiting to drive me home. But five minutes along the road, I am suddenly feeling better, more grounded and balanced. Did I want to stop at Redners for some potatoes? Sure! So we stopped at the grocery store and did some sight seeing there, as I hadn’t yet been in this particular store. We had a lovely time, then drove around the neighborhood taking scenic back roads and enjoying the last bright leaves of autumn.
After we got home, I realized that my body earlier in the day had been screaming in a drastic way because I had forgotten to check in with my wants and speak out. All along, I doubted whether that chiropractor was a good fit for me, but didn’t let myself acknowledge it. Perhaps because I didn’t listen to my inner voice and call in to cancel the appointment, my body made sure I cancelled.
Similar situations have occurred over the past few years. I forced myself to go to certain places and be around certain people who were domineering and toxic, people I wanted to speak up to but didn’t have the physical and emotional energy to confront. And deep down I knew it would be pointless to confront them. A close minded person will not hear you if they don’t want to, you just get blue in the face and waste your breath for no reason. Each time I forced myself to go be in these toxic, repressive situations, my legs would go weak, I would get dizzy and sick. Now I’m living in a new neighborhood far from these people, and I feel like I am respecting myself for the first time in a long time.
So tuning into my intuition and honoring myself is such a huge new world. I am quite rusty at this, but at least I am aware of what I am striving for, and I am trying!
My biggest roadblock to honoring my inner voice might be the desire to not be a pest to others. Honoring someone else’s view over my own was automatic. The old me believed that the “good girl” does not inconvenience others. She says yes as often as possible, and highly inconveniences herself so others can have easier lives. She is a work horse, and tirelessly gives to others at her own expense. Because she’s not worth anything else, not worthy to even lift her eyes or breath the air she is breathing. Egads, not fun to unearth these ghosts, these guiding beliefs that are downright silly when I actually type them out.
It’s funny, I used to be so flexible, easy to work with, a people pleaser who never checked in to see what I needed. I didn’t have special needs. I didn’t ask to turn the heat up or down, I was able to work long hours, work overtime, not need lunch breaks or bathroom breaks. I was able to fill in for others when a job was too much for them. I was able to go without sleep or cut my sleep short to help another. I was hardy and sturdy and never had to tune in or act like a princess needing special treatment. I did whatever others asked of me, no questions asked most of the time, without asking for anything from others… pretty much ever.
Now it is quite a different picture. “Needy” is my middle name. Yay, let’s celebrate that! First it’s too hot, then too cold… burning up, then freezing. No, I can’t eat wheat, or soy or eggs, or dairy, but butter is fine. Yes, the dinner you prepared for me looks delicious but I can’t try it. No, I can’t leave the house and go with you to that holiday party, yes I did say I could go with you and I am dressed and ready to go out the door but suddenly I do not feel well and can’t go. Yes, I see I am letting you down again and I am so sorry. Can you turn the radio off, it is too loud and sends me into hyper drive. Can you turn that light off, it is making this migraine worse. Can you just not talk to me at all, I can not even speak right now. Can you walk slower, please. Can you buy me Tylenol? Oh, I can’t use that toothpaste, it has parabens in it. Ooh, the nonstick pan is scratched, can you get some ceramic pans that won’t leach toxins or heavy metals. No, darling niece, I can’t ride bikes with you, Aunty is tired. Hi, I need to cancel this appointment… oh, for what day, ummm, today, like an hour from now. Oh, I am not able to give 24 hour notice, as I was fine 24 hours ago, I just got sick this morning. And on and on.
It is jarring to have receptionist after receptionist give you a tone, as if I am an irresponsible slacker. Which I am not! It is tough to not be able to plan ahead and not give a definite RSVP. I see the hurt and disappointment in Karl’s eyes when time and again I dodge out of going to a party with him last minute.I highly dislike letting people down and telling good people “no.” It is also difficult when people don’t respect me or even believe I am sick, as ME/CFS is still so abstract and vague. Being made to feel guilty when I ask for special help happens to me on and off in my house and with people I make appointments with. It is so tempting to want to just shut myself down so I don’t have to keep hurting people’s feelings and letting people down, risking them getting fed up with going out of their way continually for me. Other people’s resistance to and disapproval of my special needs is a strong deterrent that makes me want to repress myself more, but to do so is not an option for me anymore. If I repress my needs, my body is at the point where it will deeply malfunction until it gets my attention.
So, since we are on the topic of tuning in and honoring the self, I would like to share that I looked up some more chiropractors in the area and found two that seemed promising. I did muscle testing to figure out which would be a more suitable fit for me. I was surprised because I kept getting No’s for a more specialized atlas chiropractor I was initially interested in, and I got affirmatives for this other office where a team of three women practices. I also am looking into reiki and massage as options as well. Either way, I am going to tune in to myself before going in any one direction.