Oh man, I don't even really know where to start with this one. So many thoughts just crashing all at once wanting to be shared in the same piece but my mind wants me to separate the thoughts. Let's just say this is an accurate reflection of me, welcome to the chaos.
I know I have changed as a human being over the years - but I've never really FELT the change. Kind of like small subtleties that I now classify as the act of losing oneself over the years. I feel like, the small changes are the parts of you that you put away; lock up the box and throw away the key. Most of the time those pieces die - never to be seen again. Or are rotted so bad that when you open the box what was put in there just isn't the same. The depressive piece of change - maybe I should make a blog about "The Subtle Art of Losing One's Self"....so many ideas - FOCUS Sasha...
But this....this kind of change, where you've done the homework to truly heal yourself. You're inner child, your past being - to really launch yourself into a space of.....pft....what you feel like you were supposed to be...man, no one really talks about that. Or, I feel like they don't, or maybe they do and now I’m just joining the club because I'm finally ready to hear it all.
Ideas that made sense, places that made sense...people that made sense, just...don't make sense anymore. Subtle changes in colour, vibe, actions. Maybe I've shifted a little to the left or whatever made sense before shifted to the right, either way - it's a different perspective.
This time off, October 2022 and my time off in January bear some similarities:
I couldn't leave my apartment for over a month (COVID vs physically not being able to move).
I'm an overthinker, so I really just had me, myself and my thoughts (that's a horror movie waiting to be written, case and point the first paragraph).
I'm getting help and healing, a Psychologist vs a physical therapist.
Major difference: I am healing a physical part of my body this time and even though I couldn't really leave my apartment - people could show up.
Even with people visiting, I've had a lot of time to myself to really evaluate what's not working in my life anymore. There's been this lingering discomfort over the last year around "what does this all mean?" Ideas, places, and people just give me a gut reaction that no longer makes sense. Why does going to this meeting make me physically ill? Why does seeing this person give me instant anger? Why does this place make me anxious? It got to the point where no amount of binging episodes on Netflix would steer my thoughts away from evaluating these reactions. It didn't matter if the volume level was at 0 or 20 the apartment was always buzzing, always so loud.
I let my overthinking brain spin till I came up with answers or recognition of these uncomfortable feelings. I took some time to write, always writing, to make sure I was reflecting on what was important to me. Writing out the feelings that didn't make sense, even if the words mean nothing if someone else was to read them, till they made sense and the "ick" went away.
This seems to be my process now: write, reflect, evaluate and reassemble everything till it makes sense. Till I get a different point of view - even if I don't like it but know it's right. If that's the case, I start over but, with the new perspective.
Some of the decisions were easy to make, things I didn't have a real attachment to anymore. Discovering that the organization/club you're a part of doesn't align with your values, quit the club! Was this something you did for years and had it as a part of your identity, where people associate you with it? Who cares, you're making yourself sick over it...so why are you going? Are you still around to please other people, or should you be focusing on yourself? So, so long club, you just weren't my jam.
I sat for a long time reflecting on people. January 2021, I had no choice but to go through it alone. It was during COVID and isolation. I think you could see your cohort but I chose to sit in this tiny apartment and just go through therapy, alone. Looking back - I don't recommend that, especially something that intense. Always tried to be little Miss. Independent.
I moved out of the house when I was 17. I was taking night classes for my post-secondary diploma. The school didn't offer anything during the day and back when I took Human Resources it was a career transition job. The average age of my class was 35, so they all had regular jobs, along comes me - 17 and taking the course because I wanted to be a model scout. I know doesn't really add up, but my job shadow people told me I needed some kind of business course and this one was the shortest in the school, almost 20 years later and here I am, HR.
When I left my parent's house, I decided that no matter what I was never going back. I was out on my own - an adult! I worked three jobs at one point so I could make the rent, I think there was only one time I had to ask my parents to help me pay for it (on the DL I sure am glad that they came to visit and always just randomly had groceries or meals for me ;-) ). Even when I had no jobs I was always looking for the next hustle to show that I could make it on my own.
As the years went by, living on my own for the majority of it, I feel like experiences and my own shame/guilt/choices made bricks to create this wall that made/makes it tough for people to get it. It seemed only the slipperiest snakes would manage to come through the wall and find me cowering on the other side, biting me with their venom to poison me. The odd time someone managed to climb the wall and they're still here with me, but the numbers are few and some have climbed back over to the outside. Choices.
Even with these people on my side I still felt like I maintained distance, only speaking when necessary. A lot of people think that I'm some kind of big extrovert, maybe when I was younger but now I'm fine just sitting at home alone or sitting in the crowd watching - contributing when necessary or I have something to add. My home has been a little sanctuary for me, not a lot of people come over and I don't really invite a lot of people in.
Here's where things really started to shift for me, something moved to the left or right. The one thing I managed to do on my joy list during this time at home was to spend time with people I could be myself around. But not in the way I expected or planned.
At the beginning of September, I had planned activities to do with a bunch of people! I managed to get one item checked and then everything fell apart. On the night of my injury, I decided I was going to drive myself to the hospital. I didn't want to inconvenience anyone (which is common for me to think about myself) and it was my left leg so I could still drive. But the pain became too much. When I made my first call, obviously any daughter’s call - to dad, he was walking the dog and left his phone and the one time he left his phone at home. My impatience kicked in and I called someone I knew would come to get me. She and her family showed up for me the OGBF (original best friend). When she had to leave, I recalled my number one and my dad stuck it out with me till the bitter end. Even got me food at 2 a.m. cuz he knew nuggies would make it better.
Over the next month, an outpour of support came knocking at my door. My sanctuary was invaded in the best way - love. The OGBF came to hang and I said I didn't need anything. She called me out because she knew I was lying and she made me give her a list. Every time my parents or sister came over it was to do the crappy work, to make sure I was fed or my apartment wasn't a mess or take the garbage out. Someone even brought my coffee machine from work so that I wouldn't go without my coffee.
This amount of support was.... overwhelming. Even now when I think about all the people who showed up for me I get overwhelmed and filled with gratitude. I was forced to accept to do something I had always tried to avoid because I felt like I would burden others, Little Miss Independent had no choice but to accept help. I think about that brick wall that was created and how many of these people I've tried to shut out and I wonder why.
That really bothered me, this feeling of assuming I am a burden to everyone. What is this constant need for people's approval that I have but don't let anyone in to actually see what I'm like? It's crazy to me how we end up programming our brains into life-altering habits or character descriptors based on small interactions. Maybe our brains don't have a cabinet made for that type of moment and we can't file it away to deal with whatever happened. I've learned to file the big stuff - but what about the smaller ones that now are showing up, these memories or ick feelings that are just on the surface level (like oil on water)?
People pleasing, or a term I learned and prefer called fawning, is actually a trauma response. A learned behaviour to protect oneself from a perceived threat - it can range from perceived conflict to something much worse like abuse/violence. To fawn means to change your behaviour or hold back on vocalizing opinions/desires to appease the other person. The result can be some of these learned behaviours of seeking out every else's opinion before creating your own, difficulty saying no/setting boundaries, the need to have approval from everyone and "keep the peace", lack of identity, codependency and (the one I like the most) deep feelings of anger or guilt towards oneself.
We interrupt this post to sideline with a storytime.
As I read and type this out, an unfixed memory comes back to the surface. When I was maybe 5 or 6 I remember we lived beside these sisters. My sister and I would always play with them - cards, house outside or whatever. One day, my sister was playing with one of the other sisters and I wanted to join. Now, back then I was a rather vocal child. Learning my voice and how to use it, sharing thoughts...or as someone else might perceive it, being bossy. Which is exactly how this other little girl viewed me and she had no problems telling me how she felt about me. Her response when I asked was, "no, because you're bossy and I don't actually like you." I just remember walking away so hurt and my little five-year-old brain trying to understand what she said about how I was acting. Well, if she said it - it must be true. I realize that now I tend to only share my thoughts or opinions if I know they'll be perceived in a positive light....or as I mask it as "positive contributions".
Since I shared that story to begin to demonstrate my fawning abilities, can I accept my membership card now, please? Just call me Bambi...oh wait - that's me seeking acceptance from a group I want nothing to be a part of anymore and have no desire to play in their games anymore. I am officially now rejecting membership and *gasp* will be setting boundaries now - she doesn't know that game anymore, Bambi grew up bitches.
Back to regularly scheduled programming...
What worried me the most at the beginning of October was how concerned I was or hurt by the people who didn't show up for me. I had been blessed by so many visitors and great company - people I could truly be myself around and I was hurt by the people that weren't in the room or on the phone. Every time I thought about it my gut would wretch, telling me something wasn't right with that thought. And the feeling grew till I sat with it. Dwelled on it - thought about it and truly wanted to confront this behaviour of fawning. Which created the result of this chaotic post to assist in my process.
This journey of unlearning this behaviour and reprogramming the brain is going to take some time, for sure and maybe I'll keep you updated if I find the magic solution (which I actually think is just recognition of when it's happening + corrective thoughts * time = changed behaviour). For now, I'm just going to start with old faithful:
Step one: research. I'm on the hunt for a book to read and right now going through articles to gain more knowledge.
Step two: practicing gratitude for the people in my life who love me and continue to demonstrate it.
Step three: continue to recognize when I fawn and correct my thinking. Go back to the therapy worksheets and dissect them.
And lastly, step four: create a space of gratitude for those where we may be on different paths in life right now and gratitude for the past.
My main focus will defiantly be step two right now. Focusing on those relationships and helping them to grow. I feel so blessed to be loved by so many wonderful people in my life - 2022 really has been a year of love for me.