For as long as I can remember I kept busy, I was a doer. I stayed occupied and went from one thing to the next, constantly. It was another way to numb out life.
Being perfectly content in the perfunctory routine of: Wake up, gym, class, work, gym, home, repeat.
Staying busy, never slowing down or stopping, I didn’t want to sit with myself, didn’t want to deal with myself, going 100 mph was my life. It was a way to not deal with life. Continuing on to the next goal or task at hand would get me through another day of avoiding food as well as myself.
One of the first times in treatment someone said just to sit with myself. Oh.My.God. the discomfort was ridiculous. No. I didn’t want to. I wanted to go outside, go do something, color, clean, anything.
I would scrub the air vents, the fridge would sparkle, the stove top- immaculate, sweep the floor-several times, windex the doors and windows, wash the kitchen sink. The smell of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and a clean bathroom was the highlight of my day. I couldn’t sit still long enough to be with myself.
Stopping, or even slowing down, long enough meant I would FEEL. Overtime, everyone caught on that I was cleaning to stay busy and move around, and they tried to redirect me.
I laid in bed one day attempting to read my packet I had been given, reading about DBT, affirmations, all of that good stuff. That was how the staff there that day tried to get me to “sit with myself”. That lasted maybe 20 minutes. I ended up doing crunches in bed, then went downstairs to make tea.
After a while it became easier to sit with myself. I’m not sure if it was partially from yoga, art therapy, or having to sit after meals, but something worked. It wasn’t EASY, but it got EASIER. I would sit outside on the upper deck, or my “perch”, and just people watch. I would sit and paint.
I began to feel- yeah, I know, cliché…..
The emotion I was used to was anger- always. I wasn’t sad, I was pissed, I wasn’t uncomfortable, I was mad. Everything came down to anger. I was snarky, sassy, snippy, and barely responded or contributed in group. “On a scale from 1 to 10 on how uncomfortable something is, how are you FEELING?” “10.5” That became my answer, I didn’t know, I didn’t want to open up, and I sure as hell didn’t want to take about “emotions” and “feelings”. I spent years of my life stuffing it down, hiding it, ignoring it, why in the hell would I want to deal with them? I would mock the director… “Oh great… feelings… my favorite.”
Somewhere along the way I began to answer honestly, my 10.5 washed to the side. When asked how I was or what I was feeling I wasn’t deflecting and saying 10.5 anymore. I don’t even remember when that happened. I remember the day I was sitting in the office, overlooking the front yard, crying. I looked up and admitted I felt hurt and sad.
Trust grew, my walls came down, I became more vulnerable. Opening up about me, my life, going further than scratching the surface. I cried. Being hurt, upset, nervous, excited, scared, loved, annoyed. The emotions were there, my mantra soon changed from “Stupid feelings.” To “Stupid, I don’t know how to handle these feelings.” I was still anxiety filled, but I started to be able to acknowledge it, and learned how to deal with it and what to do. Using a yoga forward fold (or green horse pose, is what I referred to it as) became beneficial when I was feeling antsy and anxious.
My bed was tucked in a corner in my room, behind a little wall, so only the end of my bed was visible from the door. Having a difficult group one day, I retreated to my room, where I sat with a box of tissues and just bawled and bawled. Of course, it was snack time, and within a short amount of time I had been located, box of tissues to my right, pile of used tissues to my left.
Even dealing with the hard emotions, Feeling and expressing them was one of the most freeing things. Admitting I needed help, or was struggling was something that took a lot of getting used to as well. I was able to sit with my emotions, figure them out, and attempt to correct them in a healthy way.
I can proudly say that even through with anger, sadness, anxiety, I feel ridiculously happy. My future is undetermined, my family issues are still present, I’m attempting to graduate college even though I missed half of the semester. Overall though, I am happy. My life isn’t where I want it to be, but it sure is a hell of a lot better than how it was.
Trust the process.