My happy misery

I met an EMDR therapist for the first time last Friday.

I decided to go see her a couple of weeks after someone told me that I was stuck in a mindset where failure was comfortable and where success was too scary to ever wanting to change… After being told that I was afraid of happiness and that being happy meant that there was too big a risk to lose said happiness, because it’s happened too often in the past.

Makes you think, huh? You bet it does.

But it’s true. I’m scared sh*tless about the future and the unknown. I was so tired of being heartbroken, betrayed and belittled that somehow, somewhere, in the past 10 years, I decided that I would now play it safe. I thought… “Why try to be skinny if thinness brings shame and unwanted behaviors?” “Why try to be a writer if it equals struggles, denigration and rejections?” “Why go back to being vulnerable if it means being open to heartaches?”

It didn’t make sense to me. So I built a shield around my head and my heart. From that day on I, consciously and unconsciously, did everything in my power to stay in a life I didn’t like. I felt unhappy when I thought about it, but at least I wasn’t getting hurt like before. Crazy, right? Believe me, I tried to be happy in that fortress. I tried to change myself to the point where I would somehow be content with what I had. And I did have moments of happiness throughout the years. I even had moments of hope. I tried new things. I tried to get out of my situation…

Oftentimes, when I thought I had enough, when I thought I was ready to get out of that prison of mine, I try to get out. I attempted to eat healthier, bought business courses and self improvement books, tried to motivate myself to get back to a life that I loved. Of course, I never succeeded. Or at least not for long. I always got back to my old habits. And after each attempt, I felt incompetent and inadequate, bringing my self-esteem to new lows every time.

But what I didn’t know then was that the battle was already lost. Deep down, I didn’t want to succeed. I wanted to stay in my comfort zone, which was failure. Because failure was safe.

What I’m realizing today is that what I thought was an inability to succeed, was actually me protecting myself from success.

I didn’t fail myself. On the contrary! I did everything I could to never broke that promise that I made with my subconscious YEARS ago. Good job, Steph! *Clap clap, round of applause* I deserve all the praise. Because if I was able to maintain that mindset for all of these years without really knowing it, I can’t imagine what will happen now that I know I’m strong enough to achieve anything I set my mind to.

I go back to see the therapist tomorrow. Will EMDR change my life? I can’t say right now. But will putting new lenses on (by telling my whole self that life is all about choices and what we want it to be) make a difference?

I sure hope it will.

Sweat and tears

I did it! I went to my yoga class.

In fact, I went to three yoga classes since my last post. Isn’t it great?

Let’s do a happy dance to celebrate.

I’m pretty proud of myself. I woke up early on my day off, drove 35 minutes to get to the studio, got there, got dressed up and stayed there the whole time. But boy oh boy was it a challenge. Both physically and mentally.

I honestly thought that the first class would be like the first one I did back in 2016. Wow was I wrong. I put on about 20 pounds since then and let me tell you, those – plus all the others – were not happy to be there.

To be fair, I wasn’t a master yogi in 2016 either. But at least I could do half a pose and pretend like I wasn’t suffering through the whole thing. But now?

The only pose I managed to do entirely was the savasana.

It wasn’t good and it made me upset. There were times where I wanted to cry, and times where I reprimanded myself for not being able to do what I was able to do not so long ago. I was having a whole discussion with myself, while being frustrated with my incapability to perform as I thought I would, which made the whole thing worse. I was going from: “you can do this/do your best” to “stupid ?!%*@#?* pose/leg/arm – how come I can’t do it anymore?!”.

Plus, I was sweating profusely – way more than what I remembered. I was sweating so much I felt like a snowman in the middle of July. Was it because of the weight gain? Was it because the class is given at a temperature that make you feel like you’re a piece of bread grilling in a toaster? Or was it because I was dressed like the equivalent of a bear trying to go unnoticed in a room full of Sphynx cats? I guess it’s because of all of that. But since I’m nowhere near ready to show my legs in public, I continued to sweat in my full-length cotton pants and supposedly breathable bra and tank top.

So, for an hour and a half, I sweated, I swore internally and then I sweated some more.

Make you want to try bikram yoga now, huh?

Nah, but seriously, this whole process made me realize how much I put pressure on myself. Pressure to perform, pressure to be perfect and to be exactly where I used to be, instead of accepting where I am now and progress from there.

Sure, I knew this tendency of mine, but it’s in these occasions that it really shows itself more clearly to me. And I need to let go. I need to learn how to breathe and just be in these moments, instead of seeing them as a competition with myself. So I guess these yoga classes will not only allow me to work on my body, but on my soul too – which is great.

Now, let’s do a savasana. We earned it.

Getting in shape

I want to get back to yoga.

I really do.

Yet, here I am… Not yoga-ing.

I can’t say why… I have a mat, the clothes for it and even a membership to a bikram center. But I never go.

Even though I think I want to go.

What happened, you may ask? Let me give you a bit of a back story.

I started doing bikram yoga in January of 2016. But in April of the same year, I fell ill, stopped going and asked the center for a suspension. In June 2018, I felt better and thought I was ready to go back so I asked for my subscription to be renewed. Weeks got by, then months, then… Yeah, you guessed it. A year later, I still haven’t set foot in that place.

In all honestly, I’m wondering if I chose bikram for the right reasons and, mostly, if it’s why I can’t seem to find the will to go back to a class. If I remember correctly, in the beginning of 2016, I had hit a new high weight-wise. I had tried the paleo lifestyle in 2015 and it had helped with some of my health issues, but I wasn’t able to maintain it long term because I felt deprived, mostly while traveling or during social events. After I caved and let my cravings get the better of me, I inevitably gained some pounds back and was feeling worse than before. Come January 2016, where I decided to try the Whole 30 program – which is even stricter than paleo. Weird, I know. But that’s the thing, I was feeling great. Like never before. Sure, I was eating the same thing over and over again – which got real boring, real fast – but my digestive system felt wonderful, I had less bloating, lost weight rather quickly and didn’t have any food cravings. It was during that month that I decided to join a bikram center, after having talked about it with a colleague who had a lot of experience with this type of yoga and who loved it.

It was challenging, but I persevered since I was pretty convinced that it was the combination of the diet and yoga that made me feel that great. For 6 weeks straight, I was feeling good physically, but mentally, things were getting harder and harder. The world around me was slowly collapsing, stress was adding up, I tried and tried to stay strong for others but at some point, I started to recognize all too well the symptoms of depression. I didn’t want to be depressed again (I’d fought so hard to beat the first one, years before), so I tried my best to act like everything was fine. But was it enough? No.

Of course not.

Sometimes, your body forces you to see things you try so hard to hide.

So, instead of going to yoga class, I stayed in bed. Instead of eating fruits and veggies, I ate potato chips and cookies. I gained weight, lost my motivation and guilt me into thinking I didn’t have the willpower it took to feel well and continue what was going so well for me, not that long before.

But it’s over now. I feel better. I’m in a place where I’m trying to retrain my brain into understanding that a new lifestyle isn’t necessary a punishment. That we can still enjoy things while living differently than before. I’m taking small steps – sometimes way smaller that I would like – and often take steps back, but I try.

See, I started to eat better about a month ago and I’m putting less pressure on myself this time around. I see how my body feels and I adjust. I think it’s going well, for the most parts.

So, this is where yoga comes in. It would make sense to go back to classes at this moment of my life. In fact, it’s probably the perfect moment to go back. I have the time for it and I already spent the money. I just have to convince myself that no one will care that I gained weight or that I haven’t been there in a while. The first one would be the hardest. I know it. Because once I go over my fear of going back, I’m pretty sure that the apprehension will disappear.

There’s a class tomorrow. Let’s cross our fingers that I go.

Life’s jitters

It’s funny how fear work. One day you’re full of ideas, you’re dreaming about experiencing different things, you crave a new life… The next day, you start making excuses, you think you’re protecting yourself from the unknown; you even try to convince yourself of how bad these ideas were in the first place. But the thing is… It’s probably fear slowly creeping in.

I know fear.

Fear has been one of my best friends in the past 10 years or so. It accompanied me every day of every week, always by my side, never too far from my mind.

By choosing fear instead of action, I thought I was protecting myself from all the potential pain that could come my way. I built the highest walls around me and focused even more on others so that I could forget about my own needs and desires. It became a habit of mine.

But now, looking back at my behavior, I’m starting to realize that not making the things I really wanted to do or not trying new experiences because I was too afraid, was way more hurtful than actually doing those things. At that time, I thought I was becoming more independent and stronger, when in fact, I was becoming more and more isolated; trying harder and harder to fit into a mold I pertinently knew wasn’t meant for me.

Honestly, for most of my life, I felt like a square trying to fit in a society of circles. I just felt different. Like I wasn’t meant for the day to day life that most people wanted to get. And in the past years, I tried… I really tried to transform myself into a circle. But all I managed to do is become a squircle. An unhappy squircle, might I add.

So, these days, I’m trying to break up with fear, but it’s not an easy task. Fear is clingy, you know? It kind of depends on me to live, so it wants to stay close. That’s why I’m taking it slow. It’s not like it arrived in my life all at once, so I won’t try to get rid of it too quickly. I’ll try to show it how more confident I’m becoming; how I don’t let it rule my life anymore. And I guess, soon enough, it will understand that it’s no longer needed here.

It’s time for fear to give way to happiness.