Emptiness

The tidying-up marathon is over. I really enjoyed it, and now my flat is much neater. There is space and a sense of order. Nevertheless, I feel disappointed. I had expected a greater feeling of ‘fresh start’, maybe a creative idea or a sudden realisation, some change. But what I sense is mostly emptiness. I came home last Friday after work and didn’t know what to do. Nothing left to tidy up. No energy for exercise or ballet. No desire for starting housework. I lay down on the bed and read irrelevant things on the internet for hours, then ate too much, then slept for ages. Last night, too, I just lay there with Tom, staring out of the window. It was a lovely spring twilight, but it failed to inspire me.

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The new order

My self-esteem is really low, too. I feel as if I was utterly boring and average, if not stupid and ugly. My ‘highs’ are gone, useless since I can see through them: I used weight loss, ballet and fitness as a means to feel better about myself for a long time. They are illusions. Fake happiness. So is love. I know I use Tom to feel better. I crave his affection and his words of endearment while hating myself and calling myself names. Coward. Lazy. Stupid. Fat (meaning too large and un-feminine, therefore un-lovable, undesirable, wrong). God, when and where did I learn this deep hatred of fatness? Losing weight has only made it worse. I feel once more as I used to feel in my youth (roughly 100 lb. heavier): inside, I am feminine, delicate, but also fiery and passionate, spiritual(-ish), but I look just the opposite and therefore feel like a fraud, as if I wasn’t allowed to take myself seriously. As Mrs. H always says: in these moments, I abandon myself. And my abandoned part cries out for comfort, but the only comfort I seem to give it is food. It’s a mechanism I have reinforced for years and now it comes back again and again.

And again and again, I have to tell myself: Changing the outside is not the answer! I have to not abandon myself when I hate myself, I have to find a way to love myself as I am, the way Tom seems to do. Unconditionally! This means even when I have eaten too much, gained weight, not worked out, not put on flattering clothes, not done my work well, in short, not behaved the way my ideal self ‘should’ behave.

On a more positive note, after a ten-day break from ballet classes, I have slowly begun to find new motivation and joy. I suddenly read ballet books and websites again and sometimes enjoy class despite my ‘wrong’ body. I even practiced at home a few times. I’m really trying to separate ballet/exercise from the idea of changing my body and just do it because it feels good.

On the whole, it’s not hopeless. There are ups and downs and many drab days, but I think I’m finally on the right path.

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‘Tidying Up Once And For All’

I’m trying something new and have been excited about it for weeks! It’s nice to feel excitement and interest in a topic the way I used to in my youth. It gives me energy. The topic is nothing exciting in itself; it’s just tidying. But then I’ve always been interested in keeping order, organising, creating a beautiful and functional home etc., so it’s right up my street.

A few weeks ago, I had some holidays that I spent redecorating my hall and rethinking my whole flat. Before deciding to buy a new shoe cupboard, however, I’d had to face my living situation with Tom. I live in a very lovely one-room flat and Tom always stays with me during the week and goes home to his own flat in B for the weekend, when he has to work. This is ok for me, but I didn’t know how Tom felt, being a ‘guest’ all the time, and if he was thinking of moving. When I asked him, he told me that he also preferred to leave things as they are for the moment. Really, the only way I can think I will ever move out is for a new job or to live with Tom. It’s such a lovely flat! I’ve been here for almost four years now.

While looking for some entertainment while I worked, namely audiobooks on YouTube, ‘The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up’ popped up. I’d heard of the book before and seen things about the special folding method that Marie Kondo, the author, proposes. Her method is apparently very popular. So, I listened to the book and found it interesting, though some concepts take much getting used to. Anyway, I got excited thinking of trying that new so-called KonMari method of tidying ‘once and for all’ and freeing myself of clutter. My flat is pretty neat and organised, but I moved in with stuff and have accumulated more, and am starting to lose track of what is where. Thinking of my things makes me feel slightly anxious. After reading the second book and searching on the internet, I decided to try tackling my possessions using the KonMari method.

I already know from experience that organising has a calming effect on the mind. But I was intrigued by the idea of making space in my life for new things, ideas and feelings by getting rid of unnecessary material things and confronting my past. I think I am at a point in my life where I am mature and strong enough to let go of old ideals and lay memories to rest. I was so afraid of so many things for a long time, so I tend to cling to anything familiar in search of security. Lately, I am trying to let go of my ideals and be kind to myself and stop using unhealthy coping mechanisms. Also, at my age, my life is beginning to feel ‘messy’ because there are so many years and so many things that happened and so many changes that I have gone through. I can’t hold on to every memory, and there is no need to record and keep everything.

Sorting clothes, books and papers, I have already come to realise new things about myself. With clothes, I had to let go the hope of being thin anytime soon. I kept my favourite ‘thin’ clothes, but put them in the attic for some day in the future. With books, I faced my guilt for ‘betraying’ old ideals when I looked at books that had once meant the world to me and now had no meaning at all. As silly as it sounded to me at first, it helped to thank them for their help in my life. It was very special, taking a thing like that in my hands, fully realising that it had served its purpose, consciously expressing gratitude and respectfully letting it go from my life. It lets me close some chapters of my past and really, really brings peace.

Sorting papers, especially University, insurance and tax papers, was very anxiety-provoking. But, after having everything in order, the vague underlying anxiety I had felt whenever I had remembered those papers is completely gone! It was worth facing them head-on. I am starting to sort all the rest of my possessions now and I’m excited to keep going. This thing popped up at a very good time!

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Stop Taking The Same Wrong Turn

Something is bothering me and I want to talk about it, but I hesitate to tell Tom. He might think me weak or pathetic or stop loving me. I can’t imagine being lovable anyway right now. I’m back in a depressive slump, sick with a bad cold, and fat.

The thing that is bothering me is this: I tried to lose weight moderately for the last few weeks, and while it worked a bit, it threw me back into my old mindset. I tried to stop and eat more once I noticed, but the thoughts remained. And lo and behold, I ended up bingeing and am now hating myself. All the old thoughts and visions of thinness came back, all the self-acceptance I had gained is lost again because there was the hope that I might change. And after the first week, the food thoughts and cravings returned and I involuntarily was waiting for the next binge. Being really ill and not able to exercise made me miserable and anxious and showed me that I had once more put my value in my activity and fitness.

This is not the way to go. I must continue the path of moderation and self-compassion and neither forbid myself food nor overeat. I must stop associating thin with good, or pure, or more lovable.

Tom is very skinny and it makes me so jealous sometimes. And I feel ashamed of eating, so I eat in secret and lie to him… Well, I don’t lie to him, I just don’t tell him that I binged, or hide the traces. And I don’t tell him why I feel bad when I feel bad because I overate.

I have been here before. I have written almost the same things in one of the last posts. It feels as I was getting nowhere because I keep taking the wrong path.

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Must Remember This

I’m worse again. Maybe it’s temporary, just PMS. Anyway, I binged/overate a few times last week, gained enough weight to really notice it (although I didn’t step on the scale, yay) and once more find myself grieving for my ‘thin’ body and thinking everything would be better if I lost 10 kg. Reason and experience tell me I’m wrong and to trust my body to go back into its range. But it’s a constant battle. I hate myself for eating/not exercising, but can’t bring myself to diet or work out. I feel depressed and very hopeless about my worth as a person, not just because of my weight, but my job, capabilities, age and screwed-upness.

This makes me want to binge and sleep (=comfort and numbness), alternating with wanting to go back to serious weight loss and exercise (=getting high). I am hanging in between, trying to hold on to reason and live a life of moderation, but it’s so hard. I get neither the ‘high’ from one coping mechanism nor the numbing effect from the other, I am just stuck here fighting my own head, seeing tempting visions of ‘peace’ that are always changing… I know that neither way leads to true peace.

I must remember that the strongest thing I can do is NOT losing weight again, but eating in moderation, listening to my body AND my emotions. Instead of following the exhausting back-and-forth, I must recognise unhelpful patterns and let them go, focus on what is truly important now. I must explore my feelings, not change or ignore them. Otherwise I will never make progress in my personal development.

Yes, I am behind my peers in some ways, and it is exactly this kind of detour (eating disorder, unhealthy coping mechanisms) that has led me here. In other ways, as June reminded me, I am way ahead of people my age who may have had more external life experiences, because of the insights I have gained through my struggles. Externally, they are more successful, have done, seen and experienced more and I often ‘compare and despair’. But my life will ultimately be just as worthwhile if I am successful in my growth. It’s not a race for status, money or admiration. And I know my goal in life, my true goal, is peace and real happiness. And I am nearer my goal than I have ever been.

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