You Are Enough Blog Series: Post 10 “The Shoulds”

It’s December 1st and it’s about 6:30 am. I woke up excited and felt like it was going to be a good day. I know it’s still going to be a good day. But, as JP and I talked and he gave me his portion of rent to deposit, I checked my online banking account and noticed something.

October wasn’t good. November was better. I don’t know where the time went. I don’t know where the days went. I don’t remember at least a quarter of them, and many of the ones I do remember are blurry. I have full days missing.

I’ve talked about the binges that I had during the initial days of my medical leave. Most of them I don’t remember, but I woke up to feeling bloated or sick or JP telling me about them. My eating disorder isn’t something that is brought on by restriction. My eating disorder is brought on by a wiring issue.

I had emailed my professor when I first went on leave because when I had logged into my class I noticed I had missed a quiz, and ultimately had a zero as a place holder. I have A’s on everything in that class, but that initial week has the lowest scores I’ve ever had in a class. I explained the whole situation – probably giving more detail than necessary, but to me, completely necessary.

I love organization. I love problem solving. I love trying to figure out all the angles. But October, but the end of September, I don’t know who that girl was. She couldn’t get out of bed. She couldn’t stop crying. She couldn’t control her breathing. She couldn’t stop being a mess.

It’s not her fault.

This is something I tell myself every day.

But this morning. I saw that my FICO score had dropped 100 points in the past month. Not because I couldn’t afford to pay my bills, but because I had no sense of time in October and half my bills were late, not a few days, but late and not acknowledged until I got a call. Every call – you’re always so good about making payment early or on time, you always give more than the minimum or pay in full. We just wanted to call to check in.

Mental illness for me is like swimming and not getting anywhere. It’s like seeing everything moving so fast around you, but you feel stuck like you’re glued to the concrete. You feel like jumping and dancing, but you’re exhausted at the same time. For me, it’s choking on air.

The past couple of weeks have been really good, but I’m noticing that things from those initial days are catching up. Things I don’t remember.

At lunch, Jen and I were talking about how things were getting better and she asked about JP and I we’re doing. We are so much better, but there are still days that I’m not always sure. There are still days that He won’t back off and it’s too much for me to handle, partially because I just like my space and partially because I truly feel like I’m suffocating. This morning as he was leaving and I was sitting in the office cleaning up and checking emails he asked if he gets a kiss before he leaves and I said “of course, but you know I don’t have to get up and come to you, you could come in here.”

So he did, but then he pushed all his body weight down onto me and onto my chair and I had to start pushing back.

“Oh am I hurting you?”

“Yes, you are, get off of me.”

The past few weeks have been better with figuring out my balance as far as fitness and food and that aspect of my life. I feel comfortable halfly counting macros and halfly eating a cookie when necessary. Balancing my cookies and my vegetables. I feel confident in my lifting and I like where I’m going with the program. I’m feeling like me when I go to the gym.

I think that’s important to say. I feel like I want to. I don’t feel like I believe I should.

I feel like I’m recovering from an accident and I guess that’s kind of what happened. It wasn’t preventable, I was predisposed. But like you wear a cast on your broken leg and then are cautious about walking on it, I feel like I’m being cautious and tip toeing around.

So.

Should.

This is an assignment I gave a client this week.

Here are three “shoulds”.

  1. I believe I should be able to control my actions and emotions better.
  2. I believe I should be able to hold everything in balance and not complain when I can’t
  3. I believe I should be able to be a good girlfriend.

But where did I learn these “shoulds”?

  1. While I’ve been going to therapy since I was 11 or 12 – first because my parents divorced and then because I was a teenager and then because there were some big life changes in college… It has always been talked about in my house growing up that you just can’t react however you want to a situation. Just because someone pushed you, doesn’t mean you can always push back. Sometimes you have to take it. In junior high I was suspended for fighting – it was the first time I stood up for myself. I was taken out to dinner to celebrate. But the next time I stood up for myself I was grounded. I guess only the first time was okay, the other times you just stand there and take it and wait for someone else to intervene.
  2. If you choose to take something on you should be able to handle it – that’s what I’ve been told. Don’t take on more than you can chew. No one ever thought I would get this far. Looking at my history, statistically I shouldn’t have gotten this far. Others with my history would be on the street or with multiple children from multiple partners without an education, without a direction, probably using drugs. That’s what I’ve been told and I guess that’s what I think about. I’m better off than what the statistics say so I shouldn’t be upset, I shouldn’t complain when it’s hard. Someone else always has it worse. That’s true, but I can also own my bad and it’s relative to my life. I can’t compare the weight I feel I’m holding to the person beside me. We have different histories, we have different presents and future.
  3. While my family isn’t the bet at representing good relationships – three marriages… yep that’s healthy. Trying to find yourself in someone else, that’s kind of the impression I’ve gotten. But, regardless, I remember seeing a wife try to be people pleasing. I don’t think I really know what my definition of good girlfriend is, but I guess there are times I think I should just keep my problems to myself. Maybe dinner should be on the table at a specific time. I should keep myself in a position where he likes me always. It’s not just from the multiple marriages I learned that, previous relationships have told me that they like you for what you can bring to the table. Sometime I feel like I don’t bring that much.

Why are these “shoulds” important?

  1. If I can control myself then there will be a perception that I have my shit together. I don’t know how much of that I truly care about, but I guess there’s a part of me that believes you can get farther ahead if you at least seem capable. That’s another problem too, being emotional doesn’t mean I’m not capable, but sometimes I feel like it does.
  2. In my head, no one wants to be friends with someone who complains all the time. I’m not down playing bad days or terrible days or days that change you forever, but if you never have anything good to say, who wants to listen?
  3. The more I think about it, I equate being a “good girlfriend” with preventing abandonment. JP has been beside me through some pretty gnarly things, but I guess I wonder what his line is, what’s the boundary that if crossed will stop everything. There are days I feel crazy or I feel lost in my head with my thoughts. Some of those days I try to keep them to myself because I know he will take them on. I don’t need him to empathize with me. I don’t want him to drag himself down on my bad days.

What will happen if I can accomplish or be or do these “shoulds”?

There are times I feel like I’ll be alone. Maybe I’ll push people away with my personality or behaviors. Sometimes you take something on not realizing the magnitude. Or sometimes you have just enough on your plate and someone comes along and drops something else on that you didn’t expect. What if I drop the plate and it shatters and all of a sudden all the eyes are on me and I don’t know what to do next. I can’t figure out my next step. Balancing my life also means I’m trying to figure out how to balance independence with dependence. How do I let people in, how do I let JP help me without relying on that. Am I good girlfriend because he feels needed or wanted, or am I going to become as needy as he is when he wants to cuddle to a movie.

These “shoulds” are mostly in my head. I’m emotional and that happens to a lot of people. It’s a wiring issue, maybe for some it’s a chemical issue. It’s a hormonal thing. It’s a sympathizing thing. The problem starts when you take on the world’s problems and can’t get out of bed because of them. I don’t believe I’m that way at all, however, there are a few moments.

Perception is key. No one has their shit together and balancing is more like a tight rope. Sometimes you almost step off the rope when you lean too far over and sometimes you overcorrect and go to the other side. It’s about taking baby steps and making a plan to attack the bigger picture. You’ve never seen a magician run the tight rope, right?

I need to remember that the relationships I have now, aren’t the relationships I had before. Me at 27 is not me at 16 or 20. Adults are sometimes more resilient than children and even at 16 that’s what you are. At 20, you’re not fully committed to understanding a healthy relationship.

I can sit here and say I wish September was amazing, I wish I remembered October and reflect and say November was better, but it should’ve been more. But you can’t go back in time, you can only move forward. Either slowly or full steam ahead. You can sit there and say I should be a long list of things that aren’t real, or you can say I’m sorry I’m not perfect, but today I will try and tomorrow I won’t give up.

Because the only should I probably should be is living life as much as I can without guilt or regret and that’s what I’m going to try to do this December. And even if I don’t succeed fully, at least I tried.

And now it’s 8:30. Good morning.

❤ Cristina

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