It Wasn’t All My Fault: The Lies We Are Told As Children, And What We Believe To Be True In Adulthood

I had one of those lightbulb-on moments at my recovery coaching session yesterday.

Here’s the conversation:

Sara: My husband said I put him in the middle of him and his family.

Recovery coach: No, you didn’t put him there. Your husband put himself there.

Sara: But my husband said I put him there.

Recovery coach: Your husband said that, but you didn’t actually put him in the middle of you and your in-laws. Your husband put himself in between you and his family.

Wow.

Lights flashing. Sirens going off. Fireworks exploding in my head.

Fireworks exploding.
Photo by Marc Schulte on Pexels.com

What???? I didn’t do what my husband said I did.

My recovery coach was right. Yet, the concept was one I really struggled to grasp because of what happened to me in my past.

I’m going to be on the lookout this week for blame that I have taken on as “being my fault” and try and determine if the event was my fault, or if I perceive it as being my fault. 

When you’re told your bad and that you’re not enough or not good enough by your family of origin, for me that’s my grandmother, mother and father, then you tend to take those beliefs with you into your adult life. I remember many times where both of my parents told me I wasn’t good enough or that I was a disappointment to them because I didn’t live up to their expectations. What a terrible thing to do to a developing mind. They did it to me because their parents did it to them. 

Alcoholism, with or without the substance, truly is a family disease. Alcoholism without substance abuse is called dysfunction in the ACA framework.

So, when my husband told me I put him in the middle of him and his siblings and parents, he believed that to be true. My coach had to drill this into me that it was not the truth. I didn’t do that. My husband put himself there. 

What else am I carrying around from my past that I believe to be true that actually wasn’t my fault in reality? I’m going to notice and figure it out! 

Sarathlete

How Marriage Changes Over The Years and How Our Language Doesn’t Always Help Us Define Then Roles We Inhabit in Our Lives

So, I’ve written several posts about my marriage and its current state.

In yesterday’s post, I was ready to cast off my marriage. My husband knows how I feel about our marriage. He has known for a while, since June 2022, that the marriage itself will not last. We’ve laid our cards on the table regarding how we both feel and what has happened to us and to each other individually over the years to know that the marriage is irrepairable. 

When I say I want the marriage over, it’s not a revelation I’m just coming to.

But something shifted in me yesterday.

I went downstairs after I was done journaling and then writing my blog post. I was writing and synthesizing my experiences for 6 hours yesterday. I thought I had it all worked out. I was going to cast off both my husband and my marriage.

He convinced me otherwise.

We talked, again.

Sometimes it seems like we talk so much and say change is coming and we end up in the same place in about 6-8 weeks: angry at one another and me expressing my frustrations with him and him saying he’ll change and then he changes a little and we are right back to where we are.

Yesterday was different.

I told him that I thought we should do things separately now, and live our lives separately while we continue to live in the same house as we pay down debt and get things in order for when we do divorce and separate our lives.

This wasn’t news to him about the impending divorce of a legal marriage between two people. We know we will move on from one another. 

But something was different. Yesterday he expressed how he was feeling and asked for what he wanted. 

He was fighting for me.

He’s a very emotionally unavailable man. He doesn’t express his emotions hardly ever. He pushes his feelings down and doesn’t deal with them or express them. 

I tried to push him away and cast him out of my life because sometimes it’s just too much and in moments of anger and rage, all I can see is my anger and rage. I don’t often see the friendship we have or the love that we do have for one another. The mutual respect and admiration we have for one another that has evolved over the years.

He does see that more clearly than I can see it sometimes.

There’s an 11 year age gap between us, in case you haven’t read my other posts. That age gap matters here. He has more life experience than me, and his wisdom benefitted us both yesterday when I was ready to throw it all away because all I could see was my anger and rage, and his wisdom won me over. 

He said, “I know the marriage is over. I used to hope it would come back, but I know it’s over and that one day you will leave and probably move out of the country. But that doesn’t mean we have to lose each other as friends. We’ve become one another’s best friend. I like doing activities with you now, and I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want that. I don’t want to live in this house with you and not speak to one another.”

He’s never fought for me like that or spoken quite that emphatically before. 

I think my age, even though I often identify as an old soul, holds me back in our friendship and relationship, and I can’t always see what he sees because I haven’t lived as long as he has lived. I don’t have the gift of that much perspective in life to see what REALLY matters at the end of the day. He can see beyond his anger at me in a way I can’t always see things.

I’m grateful that he brought it to my attention yesterday. He talked me off of the cliff of throwing everything we’ve built over the years and our friendship out of my life. At the end of the day I apologized to him for treating him like crap and for wanting to just chuck him out of my life like that. I apologized for being so mean and thanked him for his perspective. 

Being in recovery and going through it together is an emotional roller coaster at times. Sometimes there are moments of great anger. Other times there are moments where you feel like you’re getting so much better, making so much progress and you’re never going backwards in time to your old ways again. Sometimes there are hiccups and you bounce back to your old life and ways of behaving that used to serve you but you don’t stay there as long as you used to because it doesn’t serve you or control you anymore. 

So, he asked me if we could keep trying. When he stated he didn’t want to lose me, I could see that I mattered to him in a way I hadn’t seen before. He’d never expressed his feelings to me of not wanting to lose me. I didn’t believe I mattered or our friendship mattered that much to him. I didn’t realize how much he enjoyed our time that we do spend together as friends.

We enjoy each other more now and we spend more time together. We’ve settled into being companions and each other’s best friend. We both know the marriage we had isn’t coming back. 

I was watching Brenè Brown’s Atlas of the Heart show on HBOMax. I’ve seen it before, but I wanted to go back and rewatch it. There are multi-language speakers in the audience of her show that talk about how language affects the words of emotion and how the English language lacks words for emotions. Like, when I say my husband and I love each other, it’s a different kind of love than we had when we first met and when we got married 10 years ago in April 2012. The love we have for one another now has evolved to a friendship-type of love, but it goes deeper than that. It’s not romantic love anymore. It goes deeper than friendship-love, yet all we have to describe it is the word love in the English language. There are other languages that have many words in their vocabulary to describe the different kinds of love. But English is pretty limited. One word like love can have so many different meanings. Without the right language, how do we communicate our emotions properly?

I think I get confused in my own marriage about love. The word marriage, or union or partner. That is confusing to me too. Another example is marriage or wife or husband. The language around those words has changed in meaning over the years. The original Minimalists, Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus both have life partners that they refer to as their wives or spouses, yet, they always say they aren’t legally married to their chosen life partners. They always use the words wife or spouse to refer to their partners because it’s easier than saying my fiancé or my girlfriend. 

It changes the way I think about the word wife, husband, partner, friend and marriage. My husband and I were the same way as Josh and Ryan and their partners/spouse/wives. We’ve been legally “married” for 10 years, but we’ve been truly “married”, or together as partners, for 18 years and have never been apart for more than a few months of separation in 2010. We called one another boyfriend and girlfriend, then fiancé, then exes, then friends, then fiancé again, then spouses, but now what? Married but friends? The words we have available to us don’t really help to define what we’ve become to one another. Even when we do divorce, we COULD still live together and have it be like we are still married. So, what would be the point in divorcing?It’s so odd. We are more than surface-level friends, but not lovers. We are best friends, but our love for one another goes deeper than that. I guess you could call us companions. Yet none of those words really describe our situation, our “marriage” or present situation, as to whatever the word “marriage” is defined as these days. There must be another word for two people who deeply admire each other but aren’t romantically involved anymore. What’s the word for that? It makes it hard to define, and sometimes can be really confusing when you’re the one struggling to come up with words to make sense of what your relationship has evolved into now and you don’t have the right words to express it because there isn’t a word to help you label your situation and say, “ok, this is what I have with this person now.”

The words may not matter in every situation, but when you’re looking for answers and trying to express how you feel and what’s coming up for you, words DO matter. The right words matter when you’re communicating how you feel to another person.

So, we told one another how we both felt as best we could. We agreed to keep going on as “best friends”. We are going to keep figuring things out and spending time together. As much as I want to cast the fighting and the old marriage out of my life, I can’t cast out my feelings for my best friend.

If you read my post about Monster and dogs and how they love you unconditionally and how I haven’t found that in people yet, I was wrong. I did find that in a person. I found it with my husband. No matter what, this man accepts me for who I am, purple hair and all. He accepts I’m shy and quiet and he’s never tried to change me at my core. Same is true for me with him. He drives me crazy, but I’ve never tried to change the person he is at his core. I may not love his need to hold onto everything he owns, but I’ve also never given him an ultimatum to get rid of his stuff or just disrespected his wishes and gotten rid of his stuff that I see little value in. I accept him for who he is, stuff and all. 

Sometimes my anger and rage and the age difference we have gets in the way. Yesterday his wisdom saved us. He got me to see past my anger and rage and he showed me I mattered to him and that he didn’t want to see what our relationship has evolved into end. While we don’t have words to describe exactly where our relationship is right now, it is still a relationship even though it’s not the proper definition of the word. 

I laid down my anger and rage yesterday. We went out for a hike. We came back laughing, happy and regulated. Nature always helps us out. Movement helps soothe us, align us and reset and re-sync us. We go from dysregulated and dysfunctional and move back to happy and best friends. 

Recovery has been filled with highs and lows. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy with rage and other times it leaves me feeling crazy with happiness and high on life.

And so, I’ll let it be. Whatever it is that we have now vs. what we had in the past and how it’s evolved and though I don’t have the right words for it, I’ll just let whatever “it’ is be.

Sarathlete

The Choices We Make, Jacob Marley, The Power of Reflection and Choosing What’s Next

Christmas is coming. With Christmas, comes classic stories like Charles Dickens’ famous story of A Christmas Carol. These stories have powerful lessons. You can compare your life and what’s happening to you or what has happened to you with other stories and see how they measure up. Since stories writers write are drawn from their own human experience, they are generally relatable to our own lives.

It’s like being a world where no one understands you or accepts you. Then you find your tribe. All of the sudden you fit in and you’re surrounded by people who have things in common with you and it magically feels like they get you. They get your story because they’ve lived a similar version of your story in another time and place.

Jacob Marley was Scrooge’s deceased friend and former business partner who walked through life caring about nothing nor no one else but money. Marley’s ghost visits Scrooge on Christmas Eve night, and he is burdened by so many chains and weight of treasure and money. Marley tells Scrooge that he has a chance to change and not end up like him, carrying the things he thought he cared about through the afterlife. Scrooge gets a second chance at life, and it’s a chance Marley didn’t get. Scrooge sees Marley, reflects on his past and present and sees into the future and changes his ways. 

Side cultural note: If you’re in Chicago, check out The Goodman’s A Christmas Carol for a traditional experience. If you’re looking for a more modern version of the same story, I highly recommend checking out Q Brother’s Christmas Carol at Chicago Shakespeare at Navy Pier. Had to say that because I’ve seen both many times and truly enjoyed both experiences!

Back to my story, I’ve been writing for two days now, very heavily in journal after a fight my husband and I had on Friday 11/4/22. Since that time, I’ve been writing and posting a blog post when I’m done journaling. You’ll see that’s why yesterday’s blog post was posted so late. Today’s post is within the normal time of when I post. I even got an extra hour of writing in with today’s daylight savings time.

I’m not so sure that’s a good thing though because when I write in my journal, I spend a lot of time getting out my anger at my husband. This is in part because I have no one else to talk to except my dogs or myself. I don’t have any close friends. My family has abandoned me, and I am over fighting with them to people please them and get them back in my life. I don’t have the desire anymore to get them back if they don’t want to be here. Slowly over the years, I’ve seen a lot of loss of the people who used to be close to me. I’ve also seen a change in me. I stopped wanting to fight for these people who didn’t support or love me and who really only cared about me when it served them best to do so.

I’m down to one last person that I’ve been fighting for and with since the beginning of our time together: 18 years I’ve been fighting for the marriage I’m currently in. 

The fighting no longer serves me. 

My parents told me that my actions have consequences, and sentenced me to a life with him that has been very difficult to get out of and detach from. It’s been 18 years of struggling to fit in with his family who never could accept me for who I am, and me fighting for this marriage and to strive to keep it alive.

Today, I finally got some clarity. 

I don’t want to keep fighting.

When I started this blog, my husband told me my writing was fluffy.

Fluffy. 

Fluff pieces.

His statement about my writing was accurate. It was very fluffy. It was fun and light-hearted and full of hope. 

His statement made me think that fluffy was cute and excessive and no one really wants to read fluffy, hopeful blog posts. Drama and sad stories are what people want to see. No one wants to read feel-good pieces when there’s no dramatic story attached.

So, 10 years after I started sarathlete.com, I can’t say my writing is fluffy anymore. 

I’ve changed. I’ve hardened. I’ve become bitter. I’m tired. I’m haggard from life. I’m angry, bitter and resentful. 

I’m done fighting for a marriage and with a man who refuses to change. 

I love my husband, the person. I always will. He will always be my best friend. But he cannot give me what I want the most: change. He isn’t capable of it. It’s not fair of me to keep expecting him to live up to his word when he’s never been capable of it from the beginning.

So, that’s not so fluffy.

I miss being fluffy. I miss being that hopeful girl knew there was a brighter future ahead if she kept on moving and searching for it.

She’s still there, somewhere. But she hasn’t been showing so brightly to world because life ran her and her plucky good attitude over. She got so exhausted from fighting and people pleasing. In 2015, she ended up in the hospital from trying to please people and in 2022 she wound up in 12 step and recovery and seeking emotional sobriety from the chaos, sickness and insanity of other people who’d been there in one of two or both miserable parts of her life: family of origin and in-laws.

This is the last fight I’m having, and I finally came to the conclusion that if my husband really wanted to change his ways, he’d already have done so. He will never change. He will never be like me. It’s not fair of me to expect him to change, or keep waiting around and trying to hold him to his word. All it does is make me angrier and more resentful of him.

I’ve started to notice over the last few years that my marriage just irritates me. The person I’m married to can’t give me what I want him to give me, and the fights we haver are always the same: me asking what I need and him resisting because it always involves him changing his ways. The truth is that we wouldn’t be having a fight if he was capable of giving me the changes I would like to see in the marriage. 

The marriage is starting to feel like a burden. Kind of like Jacob Marley carrying around those chains of the money he had to in real life and now is burdened in his afterlife.

If I Marley, I wouldn’t want that for my best friend just like Marley didn’t want it for Scrooge. I don’t want to keep feeling hardened on life, bitter, resentful, angry, sad, pissed off, about my life or at my husband. I don’t want to keep fighting with my husband and I don’t want to fight in general because it’s unproductive and becoming such a burden not seeing change.

And so I get to choose. Unlike what my parents said in hate and haste when they booted me out of their lives because I chose to start dating at 23 years of age, they warned me that there are always consequences to my actions. They were 100% right. What they failed to mention is that you can always reverse those changes. At 23, I didn’t have the life experience to know what reflection and perspective really was the way I do at 41 years old. That’s an extra 18 years of life I’ve lived to reflect on.

I wish my parents hadn’t made making decisions feel like a punishment. They implied you are stuck with the choices you make for the rest of your life. What a sad thing to believe: that you are STUCK with the choices you make at 23 for the rest of your life. 

They said that, in part, because that was true for them. They were stuck with one another. They didn’t believe in divorce. They aren’t close. They don’t have hardly anything in common. The way they see the world-they really are stuck with one another based on their beliefs.

I don’t agree with them. I think, for most things, we have a choice and we can make new changes or go in different directions than the original decisions we made at one time. “You can always go another way,” so says the flexible, creative mind, body and spirit.

I don’t have to keep fighting for change. My husband was my last fight from my past life.

When I was in college, I got a break from “fighting”. There was no one to people please except for myself. I found friends in the ballroom dance club and people who were just like me and accepted me for me. I was so happy, and I get to be happy again for more than 4 years of my life.

I have to stop expecting change from someone who can’t give it to me. I have to walk away from that and in a new direction so I can live my life without the weight of chains of past decisions hanging on my body from mistakes I’ve made in the past. I don’t want that for myself. I don’t wish the bitterness and anger on my husband either.

So, I put down the axe to stop chopping at the tree. I let it go. I release the need to fight, and I walk away. It’s so easy. I have a choice. I chose to matter to myself. My life matters to me because I MATTER! And I’ve always had the choice to make-the choice to let go of the bars that keep me stuck. There’s no door barring my way. I can let go of the bars and just walk around them. I have to decide it’s finally time to put the story to rest and intentionally walk away. There’s no malice or hate behind my decision. I just can’t keep fighting anymore.

I want to return to fluffy. I’ll never be completely fluffy because I’ve lived a LOT more than I had 10 years ago when I first started sarathlete.com. But I’m grateful for the woman who I’ve become. The experiences I’ve had have shaped the woman who I’ve become – the woman who knows she has a choice to stay and keep fighting or just simply (not easily) walk away and stop the fighting because it doesn’t serve anyone. Fighting just creates more pain. Why keep fighting if it makes your life miserable?

You have a choice just like I have a choice. I choose peace. I choose myself over the pain. I choose a better life for myself. I choose to lay down my sword and walk away from this fight because it’s really over this time. No more expectations from this man or this marriage. I know it’s over because it has no power over me anymore. Whatever addiction I had to fighting I had with this man in this marriage is just gone. I can see clearly now that I have to change because he cannot. And that’s ok too. It has to be ok because that’s what happened with my life.

But I get to choose to change and move forward and leave the fighting and anger behind and I get a second chance, just like Scrooge got from Marley’s warning.

Sarathlete

How To Know When It’s Time To Stop Fighting and When You’re NOT Addicted Anymore, And A Little Bit About Unconditional Love

This is such a simple answer. Not an easy answer by any means. But simple.

I recognized today that I didn’t want to fight anymore. 

For what, exactly? 

My marriage.

It’s over. It’s no longer worth the pain, chaos, sickness, stress and insanity it causes me in my life. 

A similar question gets asked of either addicts or people who work in addiction treatment and recovery. How do you know when you’re not addicted anymore?

The answer is simple: when the substance has no control over you anymore. That substance could be drugs or alcohol, or sugar or foods or the “substance” could be replacement behaviors like exercising too much, emotional eating, anorexia and other eating disorders. You know as the addict when the “substance” no longer has control of or over you. Because you just don’t need or want it anymore.

Same thing with fighting with someone and knowing when the fight is over. You don’t want to fight anymore.

My husband and I had another fight last night. This one was over money.

I dread fights with my husband. I resent how much I have had to change and how he has been able to stay the same. However, now I’m starting to see that I have changed and that he is staying the same. I also know he doesn’t have to change. It’s his choice to stay the way he is. 

What I want and who I am has changed. What I know to be true about the world, like wrote in yesterday’s post is true: I matter. I have a choice. I can choose to stop fighting. I don’t want to keep fighting anymore. I’m done. 

I describe my life as a tale of two suitcases. There’s the life with my family of origin that includes my mother, father and my paternal grandmother. There is four years of college where I was so happy. Then there’s another 18 years of more misery. Two suitcases that represent time: 36 years of time where I was unhappy with a brief blip of four years, a vacation or break if you will where I was extremely happy. Now I know I get more than four years of happiness, but back then, I didn’t know that. 

For a long time I thought life was happening to me, that I didn’t matter and that I had no choice in the matter. I was taught early on that I was stuck with the decisions I made in life. Now, I know that’s not true. I can reverse any decision. I’ve worked so hard to reverse many bad decisions I’ve made in my life. I know I can reverse this one too. It won’t be easy, but the decision is a simple one to make. It’s yes or no. It’s stay married and miserable or divorce, get space and there’s happiness on the other side of that.

Today I spent 8.5 hours writing in my journal. That’s 29 pages of writing for me. I finally realized that I was done fighting. I don’t want to fight anymore. I had the same thing happen to me with my relationship with my parents, food, emotional eating, eating at night, my relationship with my in-laws and on and on: I just didn’t want to keep going that direction and those people or things no longer had any control or power over me anymore. I was done. 

Yesterday was a really tough day. I had to take my oldest dog, Monster, to the vet. She has the beginnings of cataracts. Her patellas are loose. She has stage 1 of a heart murmur. Basically, it’s the beginning of the end. I love this dog so much. She is twelve years old and has been with me through so much tragedy and loss. It was hard to hear her diagnosis. When I got home I was irritated from the vet visit, and I just started crying. I started to realize that I loved this dog so much, my Monster. 

This year we had to re-home one of our dogs because she risked the safety of our family pack. It was really hard to take her back to the shelter we’d adopted her from as a puppy. It had to be done. There was no pretty option.

My mother let me go and rejected me back in 2004, then again in 2011, then again for the final time 2020. She even came to eventually accept my marriage and then she rejected both of us. 

I found out my grandmother had to be moved into an assisted living facility in August of 2021 and I found out from her friend in April of 2022. I went to visit her. My grandmother lost her memory, and she had no idea who I was and didn’t remember me. She didn’t know me.

I’ve cried and been sad over re-homing my dog, losing my mother and my grandmother. However, none of these events was singularly as hard as learning the state of my oldest dog and that she would be sick and is aging and will leave us eventually. Not Monster. It was one of the hardest things for me to accept. 

Today, I started to realize why I lost my cookies over Monster, but no other dog or family member or this marriage has had the same impact on me and my emotions.

I love Monster and my other two dogs as well. They love me back. They love me unconditionally. They accept me for who I am, flaws, purple hair, introversion, all of it. I don’t have to explain myself to any of my dogs. They love me and trust me. There’s no fighting among them with one another or with myself or my husband (that’s why we had to give the one dog back to the shelter-detrimental fighting that put us and the rest of our pack, a/k/a family, at risk). 

I cried so hard about Monster last night because I realized how much I loved her and how much she accepted me and loved me back for just me being me.

People are complicated. That’s what my husband said as I was crying and petting Monster. I told him I couldn’t understand why I didn’t struggle when we had to give Bonnie back to the shelter, when my grandmother was mentally gone and when I finally accepted that my mother had abandoned us for the final time and I was just done with her chaos. I was sad about those things, but I didn’t have the same reaction to those events as I did with my 12 year old dog. 

Monster is happy and still with me. I’m so grateful for that. I’m grateful for her and the love that I do get from my pets. Most times I struggle with fitting in with people and get picked at and rejected, and it’s hard to take. My dogs, though? They love me unconditionally, and I need that in my life. I’m tired of fighting for all of it. The fight is over. I don’t have to fight this hard for the love of my animals. Why should I keep trying with a person who legally vowed to love me and causes me so much misery and pain?

I believe there are people out there like me and for me to meet who will love me unconditionally and accept me for me. I met some of them in college. That’s how I know there are others out there. Humans, at that. Not just dogs. Thank goodness for the gentle giants and peaceful, unconditional love that comes from my dogs when sometimes I feel like I have no one else who loves me or understands me or does accept me for me.

Sarathlete

You Can Go Straight, Left or Right. Which Way Will You Go? Only You Get To Decide.

That’s right. You get to decide which way you go in life.

The best part? It doesn’t have to take your 41 years to (finally) get to this realization in your life. And if it did take you that long, or longer, then no worries. It’s happening now!

What’s the deep meaning behind the statement “only you get to decide”? The big WHY is knowing that YOU MATTER.

This is a lesson I’ve been struggling to accept this summer. It’s a message I’ve been listening to for years. Here’s a link to a YouTube video with the speech I’ve been listening to since 2019. It’s Iyanla Vanzant doing her speech entitled “You Matter” appearing on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show.

Iyanla Vanzant’s speech on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday entitled, “You Matter”

I (truly) needed this message drilled deep into me: THAT I MATTER!

I’ve listened to this episode so many times now that I have started integrating the philosophy that I MATTER into my knowing and being daily. I remind myself in my daily morning pages and evening journal reflections. Sometimes, the message shows up in my art journal entries.

I MATTER. 

YOU MATTER.

It’s in all caps because I wish I could scream it from the rooftops. But I’m afraid of heights, so that won’t happen.

This is a message I resonate deeply with because I needed to hear it during my life, and it was a lesson I never had embedded in my brain until I first heard this speech. Hearing it changed my life.

The people in my life were “crazy as hell”. My father, my mother, and my grandmother growing up were all crazy. My in-laws and my husband-“crazy as hell”. I walked through my life not knowing that I mattered. From that stemmed me not feeling in control of my life or knowing that I could make my own decisions.

I lived my life for other people and “did what they wanted me to do to keep them safe.”

That’s not a way to live. “NOPE.”

I needed to learn “to stand in my no and for my yes.” I needed to learn “to draw my line in the sand and not back up on my line.” I needed to learn “to stand in my no and stand for my yes. YESSSSS!”

So, here’s my art journal entry for today.

While it may sound crazy to you that my family of origin and the family I married into never supported me and treated me like a piece of crap that they could kick around and attack, then you’d be wrong. But maybe you’ve had a similar experience.

Maybe you’ve felt so low that life wasn’t worth living because you couldn’t believe that life could look another way. In other words, “You didn’t know that you mattered.”

“What I want you to know today is that you matter. Even your mistakes matter. And your difficulties matter. It’s all in the way that you look at them.”

That’s where my art journal entry comes into play and intertwines with Iyanla Vanzant’s speech, “You Matter” intersect.

I wrote in my morning pages this morning that I hadn’t been living my life for me. I wasn’t making my own decisions. I was people pleasing and allowing other people to make decisions for me because “for a very long time I didn’t know that I mattered.” 

So, my photo of my art journal page reads, “You can go straight, left or right. Only you get to decide.” “You Matter”. And, “YES, GIRL!” In the center of the three diverging paths it says, “Which way will you go? Did you know you matter? Only you know. You decide for you.”

Before you can make decisions for yourself, you need to recognize that you could be living your life for someone else and not yourself and you also need to realize that you matter. This is key to getting UNSTUCK in your life. It’s the key to making your own decisions in your life. It’s the key to self-love, self-respect, self-dignity and self-worth. 

This is a lesson I learned in ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families) as well. It’s not quite broadcast the same way, but the basis of the message is there in ACA just like it is in Iyanla’s stories she tells which are both funny, relatable to me and also sad when I stop and consider them. I’ve been that woman-the woman at the store with no bra on or high-water sweat pants. I walked around not thinking or believing that I mattered. 41 years of walking around like that. It took me so long to realize that I mattered to myself. That’s a darn-long-time to be walking around being told that you don’t matter. No wonder it was such a hard lesson for me to learn. It’s also why I have to keep reminding myself daily and “moment by moment” that I matter. 

Going forward, I get to make my own decisions for my life FOR MYSELF. Not my mother, my grandmother, my father, my husband or my in-laws. NO!

I decide for me because I know I matter, and I know I’m in the driver’s seat of my life. It wasn’t until I knew I mattered that I could see that I wasn’t living my life for me. I was living my life “for other people and doing what they needed me to do to keep them safe.” 

“YOU MATTER.”

Have a great day!

Sarathlete

Recovery and Religion: Can you have faith without religion?

Ok, this is a contentious subject. I’m addressing it right off the bat.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There is a religious aspect in almost every 12 step program. ACA has it. ACA asks you to accept god/God as you understand god/God. 

This has been a difficult thing for me to accept, and it’s not something I always understand the WHY behind.

Why do I have to accept god/God in order to achieve emotional sobriety? I honestly still don’t know why, but I can tell you my thoughts on the matter.

I think it has to do with belief in something greater than yourself. The belief that there is something greater out there than you. The way I learned to accept that there’s something greater than me out there was to think of and accept that god/God comes in the form of nature. 

There’s something greater than me in nature that I cannot explain. That would be nature for me.

Another component to belief and faith in something meant learning to understand the concept that life is happening for me, not to me.

I’ve struggled with my faith for a very long time. I went to a Catholic school for 12 years in grade school and high school where I had god/God shoved down my throat daily. When I got to college, a state school (Indiana University, Bloomington) I saw, for the first time, that I could make my own decisions about god/God and what I believed because god/God was no longer thrown down my face every day. Daily religion and theology classes were gone. 

Like many other Catholics who have god/God shoved down their throat from a young age when they aren’t given the option until adulthood to explore what they believe in, they are just told that they must believe in this because the rest of the class does, I moved away from god/God and started to question my faith because I finally had autonomy over what I believed when I was in college. Because of this, I moved away from belief in god/God during college, and I haven’t gone back. All because I was force fed god/God for so long, and I enjoyed having a choice.

Then I land in 12 step in July 2022, and I have a program telling me that I must accept god/God, as I understand god/God in order to complete the 12 steps.

I think this is a failing of 12 step programs and also other recovery programs.

I believe you can have faith and belief without the God/god/religious component.

I think this a major deterrent to people who would otherwise join 12 step programs. It is off-putting.

The recovery center I go to has a faith night. The recovery center’s brand messaging asks you to believe in something, even if you’re an atheist. I attended a faith night at my recovery center. My recovery center doesn’t have a 12 step focus necessarily which I like. It’s like a convalescent space for your soul or spirit or being. However, faith night is a different story. There is a pastor who delivers the message on faith night. I went…once. I haven’t gone back. I dissociated during the “service”. First, they sing the Lord into you with Christian rock. Then the pastor speaks the Lord into you with his message. Their social media messaging claims that you don’t have to be religious to come to faith night. The messaging says: you should be able to look past the god/God component, deepen your thinking if you’re an atheist/agnostic, and look past the bible and god/God for the greater message. 

Why can’t their messaging match the service at the recovery center I attend? 

I believe you can have a life recovery service without having the god/God and religious component attached to the message. The pastor could talk about faith and belief without even mentioning god/God and bible passages. But the pastor doesn’t. 

I miss out on faith night because it reminds me of having god/God and the religious message shoved down my throat as a child and teenager, and I can’t go back.

I’m a flexible person in my thinking and open to trying almost anything once. That’s why I attended faith night. The whole time I was there at the service, I wanted to run out the door and I was angry. I’m flexible enough in my thinking to look past the god/God component when I want to. However, that doesn’t mean I want to be force-fed god/God. The pastor that night in his sermon mentioned the word “filth” as it relates to people in recovery. Sorry, I’m not filth. If I’d wanted to feel bad about myself, then I would’ve gone to see my parents. Or I could’ve just gone to any church.

Just because I can be flexible in my thinking, doesn’t mean I can’t make my own choices. The god/God component wasn’t what I was after. I was willing to try it out, and I found it off-putting. I also think that this is a topic that is contentious for other people. I think if you’re going to put out social media marketing/messaging that says all people of all beliefs are welcome at faith night, then you should stick to that and not shove god/God down people’s throats with a bible sermon and Christian rock.

I’ve mentioned my thoughts to the recovery center I attend, but it’s their biggest draw and many people attend. I am in the minority in my thinking here. I get that. 

I’m torn because part of me would love to attend faith night if god/God wasn’t being shoved down my throat. If faith and belief in something greater than myself, like nature, was part of a general message, I would gladly attend. But it’s so clearly not. I can look past the bible passages, but I don’t want to because I just don’t want to hear it and feel bad about myself, and it’s not what I believe in anymore. 

I have a choice. That choice is to miss faith night because it’s more about religion than it is faith and belief in something greater than myself.

PTSD, ACA, and the Stories Behind What’s Hiding in Your Purse/Wallet

One thing I found interesting this summer as I went through the 12 steps in Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA) was looking at weird behavioral patterns in my every day life and digging deep to explore the why behind the why of the why of why I behave in certain ways and what’s the deep story behind it. 

I’m a grown woman. I carry a purse. Not uncommon.

In ACA, a lot of our behaviors that we can’t often explain often have an origin story attached to them that we don’t think about because they become habits that we do as part of our every day lives and don’t really think about why we do what we do.

In July, as I worked through the 12 steps, I came across the PTSD step and had to take a look at and note odd behaviors that I have that I’d never been able to explain before. 

One place I started looking at was the extra stuff I carry with me in my purse. If you’re trying to apply this to your life, you could look at your wallet or the stuff you carry in your pockets or the stuff in backseat of your car.

A purse overflowing with excess tuff.
Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

So, let’s take a look at my purse and see what I found in July and August 2022 when I did this step.

Warning: I’m going to be talking about periods and tampons, so if that bothers you, please move on.

I found that I carry an excessive amount of tampons in my purse. I’d known this about myself, but I couldn’t ever figure out what the why was behind this need for excessive tampon carrying. Another thing that’s related is that I find tampons in old purses, old gym bags, in the glovebox in my car, in pockets of winter coats, in the backseat of my car. 

Why?

The behavior I needed to figure out was why do I hoard tampons in the weirdest places. What was my story behind that? I started thinking back to the past and searching for a story that caused this odd-to-me behavior.

Let’s just say-for someone who identifies as somewhere between a Minimalist and Essentialist, I couldn’t directly explain what happened to me and why I was behaving in this way in this one area of my life.

This hoarding, like most hoarding, came from a trauma that happened in my past. It’s linked to a traumatic story from my past. Traumatic to me. 

Here’s the story:

My parents never talked about sex with me growing up. They left that subject up to the Catholic school they sent me to for 12 years instead. So, anything related to sex was also off limits, like things that happen when your body changes. I remember when I got my first period, my mother pointed me to the tampon box and told me the directions were inside if I needed help. I was 11 years old. Following any kind of printed directions, even in adulthood, is not my strong suit. Since I had to figure this out all by myself and had no idea or clue what was going on, I didn’t put the tampon in correctly, and later that day, I had bled through. I had no additional tampons with me. I was sitting in the bathroom bleeding and ashamed. I told my teacher that I was sick and I needed to go home because I didn’t want to risk more bleeding and the humiliation that I knew was coming if I didn’t get out of school. Again, I was 11 years old. That’s a young age to have no guidance and no one to help you.

That one incident led to a lifetime of tampon hoarding in my purse, car, pockets. It’s a deeper fear of being abandoned and running out of supplies and bleeding through and the fear of the humiliation that would ensue.

It was hard to look back and realize how other people’s actions, or inactions in this case, led to some of my behaviors today.

My parents didn’t ever want to talk about their feelings or any subjects they perceived as shameful, like sex or puberty. That lack of communication and the fears they had around tough-to-talk-about topics led to projection of those subjects onto their daughter. 

I can really see here how alcoholism or dysfunctional families is truly a family disease. 

One behavior, tampon hoarding, stems from a traumatic-to-me story of an 11 year old being abandoned by her parents in a time of need because my parents didn’t want to talk to me about any of it. They left that up to a Catholic school that also didn’t want to talk about the same subjects.

I’m grateful I noticed this behavior and also that I was able to look back into my past, figure out what had happened to me so I could explain the behavior behind my tampon hoarding and try and do something about it.

By recognizing the behavior and the why behind it, I can now move forward and be aware of it and also do something about it. I’m working on it in degrees. If I find a tampon in an old purse, or glovebox in my car, I remove it and place it back in the closet where I keep my other tampons. 

Awareness is key to identifying what happened to you and why you are behaving the way you are. These odd ways that control you that you can’t explain are worth addressing and thinking about because you have a chance to think on it, address it and not give it power over you anymore.

Now I carry the tampons with me that I need when I have my period. I don’t carry an excessive amount with me all month long. I trust that I have enough. I don’t have to let my fear control me anymore. I’ve been able to slowly overcome my tampon hoarding and that aligns with my beliefs about hoarding things I don’t need for just-in-case moments. I don’t believe in storing stuff for just-in-case moments. I simply don’t want to live that way in all areas of my life. Recognizing the odd behavior that didn’t align with my beliefs helped me get back into balance and back into alignment with my beliefs. It make my purse a lot lighter too!

Sarathlete

Goals for The Month of November and Staying Accountable To These Goals

This month is a goal month. I’ve been in a season of rest and recovery for the past three months, and I’m ready for a season of work. More like, I’m ready to get back to work and I wanted to explore today what that will look like.

I read 10/31/22 entry of https://feelthebyrn.blog yesterday, and it inspired me to set some goals for the month of November and see where they lead. Here’s a link to the blog post: https://feelthebyrn.blog/2022/10/31/creating-a-self-directed-life-with-meaning/

Yes, I need a three year goal, but I also just need to set some goals and see where I land. After doing the bare minimum to get by for the last three months so that I could spend the time I needed resting and rebuilding my life, I’m ready for a change.

The first day of any new month seems like a natural place to set new goals. I would say the same rule applies for a new week, new year, birthday, etc. There are natural breaking points within time, usually the first day or anniversary of an event, that leads to a natural break and time to restart and reset. It’s a natural time to assess where you’re going and where you want to go in the future.

I wanted to be open and transparent about my goals to help hold me accountable. Usually, if I write it down or post about my goal, I stay accountable to the goal. It’s like the world holds me accountable even though, at this point, I don’t even know if anyone reads these posts or not.

So, here are my November goals, remembering a few things: 1. I needed to restart somewhere. 2. These are likely going to last, in some form, longer than 30 days and are likely part of the bigger plan. 3. I’ve been off for three months doing the bare minimum to get by so that I could rest, therefore all of these goals might seem like a lot in one month. Guess I’m making up for lost time.

A striver making up for lost time? Never!

  1. Find a trail 5k locally to run and sign up for the race.
  2. Buy trail running shoes.
  3. Find a free trail running plan for a 5k trail race.
  4. Integrate the goal race and training plan into my current weight training plan so I can do both at once.
  5. Clean out my closet in my room.
  6. Have a truly happy Thanksgiving and figure out what that really means to me.
  7. Art journal everyday with watercolor journal or a digital art app like Procreate. Post the art online somewhere, like Facebook, blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, anywhere and be consistent with posting everyday. 
  8. Write a blog post 4 times a week.
  9. Meditate for one minute or do a meditate activity where I breathe deeply for one minute the first day and add a minute to each day so I meditate for thirty minutes at the end of the month. Compounding breaths should equal a calmer me by December 1st!
  10. Practice Italian every day on DuoLingo.
  11. Monetize my life and see how it goes.
  12. Do Gordo Byrn’s version of journaling in the morning and evening from 10/31/22 post so that I write less and check in with myself more often.
  13. Clean out my car.
  14. Film and post 4 YouTube videos.
  15. Do the Authority Accelerator course and finish the first step of the course: Hero’s Journey and the Niche Down to Blow Up spreadsheet. Speak to 20 ideal clients to see what they have to say, OR jump into building the course since I am around my ideal client and I already am my ideal client and see how it goes.
  16. Purchase Apple Watch Ultra and live only on the Apple Watch for 30 days.
  17. Set goals with real numbers for The Rare Plant Haus.
  18. Bake and sell baked goods on Facebook in the Chesterton Happenings Facebook page.
  19. Sell stuff on Facebook Marketplace: plants, old stuff I want to get rid of as I declutter and try to make money out of my old junk I no longer want and money out of plants I can’t sell in my store because they are too big to ship or I just don’t want to carry that plant in my future lineups anymore.
  20. Get rid of the stuff that is hard to get rid of by playing the Minimalism game.
  21. Clean out all of the hiding places stuff builds up in the house like in the closets, pantry, basement, drawers and dressers and do it daily, i.e. a little every day.
  22. Simplify the plant room and what I sell and pitch or sell off the rest on Facebook marketplace or somewhere, doesn’t matter where.
  23. Eliminate personal plant collection and sell those plants off that I no longer want to keep in my personal plant collection. Sell it off as part of the store and keep only the plants that hold meaning to me.
  24. Buy LECA for the plant shop to propagate with going forwards.
  25. Figure out how to fertilize with roots growing in LECA.
  26. Sell five plants on www.therareplanthaus.com and get off of Etsy and slowly transition back to my Shopify store that is currently on pause. Stop giving money to Etsy and put it back in my plant shop’s pockets.
  27. Align multiple businesses under one large brand with one greater message.
  28. Do one cleaning activity every day so I don’t have to do big pushes anymore in the house. Clean as I go so the house is always clean.
  29. Read a few pages of a book every day or a chapter of a book once a day so that I get into the habit of reading.
  30. Be outside everyday somehow, even if it’s just opening the window.
  31. Leave the house everyday.
  32. Go the library and sit and read the newspaper and magazines at least once this month. This will help me with getting out of the house everyday.
  33. Go on some artists dates, once a week, to start building new interests and hobbies that I can start to nurture over the next decade.
  34. No mindless Facebook scrolling. If I find myself scrolling, then stop scrolling and switch to something else.
  35. Check emails, orders and messages only once a day.
  36. Live life on my watch as much as possible and stop carrying my phone around unless absolutely necessary.
  37. Wear my contacts 15 days out of 30 days this month. Wear glasses less often.
  38. Shower less often to help build up body microbiome.
  39. Stop online scrolling mindlessly on costco.com
  40. Only go to recovery center activities that I want to attend, and stop shaming myself and feeling guilty for not wanting to attend all of the activities they offer.
  41. Do one cycling workout a week, indoors or outdoors, to keep my butt in shape so I don’t lose the progress I’ve made. Keep my butt used to the saddle so I’m ready for spring riding in 2023!

Ok, so will I accomplish all of these? Is 41 goals too much for 30 days? Aren’t you supposed to pull back and rest during the holidays? I don’t know what the right answers are to any of those questions. But I trust that I’m where I need to be and that life is happening for me and not to me, and that I am on the right track. We will see where I land in 30 days.

Yes, there is crossover in my personal goals and business goals. You can see that I want to make business and personal cross in my goal that is monetize my life. I want to integrate business with personal so I can live more and work less. So that work is my passion and my passion is my work. 

This gives me something to shoot for and keeps me accountable. It gives me something to write about on this blog and what to post about on social media. 

Remember, these are my own goals and they may only make sense to me. Your goals will naturally be different than mine because we are two different people. 

Sarathlete

Losing My Patience With The People Around Me While I’m In Recovery and They’re Not and Dealing With Change

Sometimes recovery can feel overwhelming. There are so many changes to make in the life of someone in recovery, myself included. There’s a physical shift, a mental shift, relationship shift, mindset shift, behavior changes. So. Many. Changes. While change is amazing, sometimes it can be overwhelming. With all of these changes in my life, sometimes I feel resentful as to why I have to change and the people around me left over in my old life don’t have to change. My husband. My parents. My grandmother. My in-laws. Why did they all get to stay the same, and I had to be the one to change?

Maybe this is one of my faults since I identify as having a striver mentality. I always like to dig deep and know why things are the way they are. This is both a strength and a weakness, this striver mentality.

One of the things you’ll begin to see in recovery is that you have to change, but the people around you don’t have to change. If they aren’t sick to begin with or don’t identify as being sick, then maybe they don’t need to change. But what if them not changing holds you back? Should they have to change? Should you always be the one changing? These are really tough questions to answer. I put them out there for you to ponder on and for more of a discussion rather than me seeking a direct answer and that is because the answer will be different for everyone.

Recovery is a personal journey. It doesn’t look the same way for any one person. Everyone’s recovery is unique no matter how many commonalities there may be in two different peoples’ stories. 

These questions and frustrations come up for me constantly and so does the resentment that comes up for me as a I ponder these questions. Last year I had a back injury. Yesterday, I chopped back two years worth of growth on our landscaping on the front and one of the sides of our house. It didn’t get done last year because I couldn’t have held the weight of the pruners and shears without intense pain running down my lower back and right side of my leg. Yesterday, I was fine. Sure, I was stiff afterwards, but overall I have been ok today. I’m tired and feeling a little run down, but I also did 5 hours of yard work between cutting down landscaping to raking leaves to the curb. These are things I didn’t get done last year, and, as a result, they didn’t get done. I’ve had to overcome many challenges to build myself back up to the woman I am right now. It’s been a lot of physical challenges, mental challenges, lots of tears, anger, pain, you name it. You’d think my spouse would’ve been there for me last year and taken care of it, right? Nope. I live in this world of if I don’t do it, nothing gets done. I have to change, but he gets to stay the same. This creates a lot of resentment. Yesterday, the resentment of having to cut down two years of overgrowth was too much, and today I cracked and got angry with my husband. 

This frustration of mine runs deep. We’ve always had this argument. In a way, I wish he would make changes, but I also know I can’t make him change. So, now, being the one who has changed, I can see that waiting for him to change is fruitless. My anger at him is fruitless. What’s the point in even getting mad at a person who will likely never change? That’s where me changing and him not doing any work makes a difference for the person in recovery. I see things differently now, from a new lens. I also see him for who he is and not for who I wish he was. Yet, I’m human and I still get mad. I will say that with recovery tools and skills, I don’t get as mad as I used to and I don’t let the anger fester. If I’m mad at him, I usually tell him within 24 hours. These are huge changes for a woman who would let things fester for months and not say anything. 

So, I told my husband, “I’m mad at you for letting this go last year and not bothering to take care of it. Why didn’t you take care of it?” He tells me I’m asking a rhetorical question that he can’t answer. He’s right. It is a passive aggressive question. Another question in our household is, “What did you gain from fighting me for so long on XYZ thing?” It’s not a direct question that has a direct answer. It’s a very passive aggressive question. I’m not really looking for an answer unless it starts with, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” I’m looking for an apology, but at the same time, he’s hurt me so much and so many times that an apology won’t work anymore. I want more. I want him to change. And if he doesn’t, then what? Because he’s not likely going to change. 

The answer is that I’ll have to change yet again. This involves leaving him behind, and choosing not to keep struggling with him by my side. That’s likely the only solution. It’s not a step I’m ready to make yet, but it is a necessary one for both of us. Like I said, the changes I’ve had to make in my life while I’ve been in recovery have been life altering and great. Whenever I think I’m done changing, or that I get to finally stop changing, I find out that I have to make another change because if I don’t, everything will stay the same. 

The people around you likely aren’t going to change. You’ll be the one who has to create the change you want to see in the world. Remember, like I need to remember, you are responsible for your own true happiness. Nothing external and no person can make you truly happy. Sometimes the answer is the one we don’t want to hear, no matter how much someone has hurt us or how much pain we’ve been through. Sometimes the only way out is through. For me, getting to the end of my marriage and being on my own will be the solution to happiness: me own my own not waiting for another person to change.

Scarcity Mindset, Movement, Addiction and Recovery

One of my greatest addictions is also a place where I find so much flow, and that place is movement. Movement by any name always smelled sweet to me, until it didn’t. Call it dance. Call it exercise. Call it cycling. Call it swimming. Call it watering plants. Call it weight lifting. Call it walking. Call it running. Call it yoga. Call it boxing. Call it ballroom dancing. Call it ballet. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I LOVE to move. 

Until I didn’t love to move.

I suffered from a painful lower back injury on the right side of my body in February 2021. I think I was the cause of my injury. I’m very sure that I caused my own injury because of my addiction to movement. The flow I get, the anxiety release, the dopamine hit, the mental clarity and calmness I get from moving is amazing. I haven’t suffered that many injuries in my movement history. I’ve always been very balanced in doing both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. I enjoy weight lifting, stretching and many forms of cardio. 

This injury caused me to have to ask for help in my plant business, The Rare Plant Haus. It was absolutely awful, both being in so much pain and having to ask for help. Yikes! 

The pain came in the form of shooting pains down the right side of my leg. No matter how much time I took off and rested from this injury, did physical therapy for it, got two steroid shots for it, nothing really helped truly heal the pain. Instead, a lot of little things helped relieve the pain, but my body still remembers the pain and it’s still there.

The pain was so bad that I stopped moving for a year. My husband watered all of my plants in my plant shop for a year. I didn’t move at all for a year. I was miserable because this was a place I found great flow, and also a place where I got relief for my anxiety and a place where I could work out my problems. For a year, movement was gone. The final time I saw a doctor was in March 2022. My PCP told me to get a second opinion for my condition, which has had many diagnoses from many different medical professionals over the last year, now closing in on two years. The final doctor I saw was a spine surgeon who told me that I would need a spinal fusion. He told me I needed to lose weight and move more. After a year of intentionally not moving, this doctor told me to move and lose weight. The surgeon said to lose 20 pounds of weight so that when he did the surgery, it would be easier for him.

I gained a LOT of weight over the last year. I was practicing regular emotional eating. I was addicted to any hit I could get from sugary foods. Another area exercise has always saved me was from having to watch my diet. I’d never had to worry about what I ate in the past because I was always able to work out enough and intensely enough to where weight gain due to diet wasn’t an issue for me. That is, until I couldn’t move anymore and the pain from moving became to great to continue and I stopped. Yikes!


So, the addiction I had to exercise and movement was removed for a year. I was miserable. I was tired of being in pain. Now, in March 2022, I had a doctor telling me I needed to move again. I didn’t want to go back to moving because it caused me so much pain.

What were the results? I landed myself in recovery and a 12 step program called Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. I had to change my entire life in order to start healing from this injury that caused me so much pain.

You see, I was in great pain in many areas of my life. I was very out-of-balance in my approach to my entire life, not just the exercise component of my life. 

So, now we are at the end of  October 2022. What’s changed for me since March 2022?

I started moving again. I started walking and filming videos in the park. Habit stacking: filming videos outside and movement attached to it meant that I didn’t notice the pain as much. I was in nature and that made me feel better. I started getting stronger. When I landed myself in 12 step in June 2022, I started to change how I lived my life. I did a complete 180 degree pivot on diet and movement. I was able to stop emotional eating and my attachment to sugar and how I saw food by seeing it as fuel. I started doing intermittent fasting and eating one meal a day. I started adding in other forms of exercise I used to enjoy beyond walking. I started doing yoga, then cycling, then weight lifting. I progressed to high intensity interval training. I was able to hike farther and further. I found myself working out less and eating less and I was gaining muscle, losing weight and my back pain started to lessen greatly. I changed other aspects of my life, as well. I started going to recovery coaching once a week. I worked my way through the ACA 12 steps. 

I had to make great changes in my life in order to get any sort of relief for my back pain.

I believe the mind and body are linked. I don’t think you can detach one from the other. It’s how I wound up with a painful injury in the first place, in that, I was out-of-whack in my life. I felt awful. I was acting awful. I wasn’t happy. Yet, I couldn’t identify why I was so unhappy.

And so, once you’re in recovery from any kind of addiction, for me that was seeking emotional sobriety, there’s always the fear of relapse. That’s where scarcity mindset comes into play. Fear of relapsing. Fear of going back to old ways of being. Fear of going back to my old life, old pain and wanting to avoid old emotions.

If it’s true that the only way out is through, then I had to deal with a lot of old stuff to move forward. 

Truth: you will relapse. Sometimes, I feel like I relapse daily. However, the time I spend in relapse is less.

I noticed this most recently with pain. I do NOT want to experience pain. No one does. Specifically, I want to avoid that pain I felt the first day and the days that followed of not being able to find any relief. Over time, I’ve been healing, but the pain is still there which tells me I’m still a little out of balance in my life. I’m no where near the level of pain I was at, but I still feel pain. 

My latest relapse came from overexercising. I thought I was in control and that I had my exercise addiction under control. The irony of this statement is not lost on me. One of the pillars that ACA is based around is to notice control, criticism, perfectionism, and all-or-nothing/black-and-white thinking. I struggle daily with these four pillars. In a sense, I relapse every day. 

Movement is so easy for me to talk about, so I’ll use it as the example. I noticed I was very irritable, crabby, sore, was having trouble sleeping, and I didn’t know why. Work outs were good. Diet was good. Things in my life and business were good. I was happy and things are going well for me. Still, I noticed the feeling. My husband noticed the irritability and crankiness as well and commented on it to me. He asked me why I was so irritable. I was overtrained. I knew the feeling because I’d experienced it many times before. I didn’t want to believe, at first, that I’d gotten out of balance with exercise. I thought that because I wasn’t working out for 3 hours  a day at maximum intensity and doing super hard workouts for so long that I meant that I wouldn’t overtrain. I thought I was in control. I thought I had my addiction under control, and that I was in a health place with it.

Part of recovery, for me, has meant going back to things that used to serve me well, but at the same time didn’t always serve me well, like exercise. I needed to face my fear of overworking out. Just when I thought I had the problem solved and my addiction was “cured”, it wasn’t. 

I did what no one wants to do: I pulled back for a week. I’m taking a week off with no exercise and rest to see how I feel. I’m listening to my body this time. I’ve changed. I respect myself and my body, and I know that I matter. I’m not a pound on the scale or my latest workout. I’m a person with feelings. I’m a human being, fallible for sure, and I needed a break. Anyone who finds flow in movement will tell you it’s the hardest thing to do: pull back and rest. To know I  am enough without exercise and that it doesn’t define me has been a hard lesson to learn for me, and, yet, it’s brought me the greatest sense of relief.

I’m always battling with scarcity mindset with myself internally and externally. I battle my self-worth daily with this question: Am I enough? The answer is always yes, 100% yes! However, knowing and believing I’m enough are extremely hard things for me to come to terms with. Why? Because of what happened to me in my past, how I was raised and what I believed to be true about myself based on the past. I learned from the people closest to me that I was NEVER enough. Now, I know that’s not true. But the scarcity mindset I have has been a great struggle for me, and it’s driven my for such a long time and has affected my relationship with everything in my life, including exercise.

It took going in to 12 step and recovery and so many other changes to heal my life, which is what has helped me heal my back. Reckoning with my self-esteem, self-value and self-worth. I have to constantly tell myself that I’m enough, to the point where sometimes it feels like it’s moment-to-moment. 

I’m getting better and healing every day. Sometimes, I need to take a break. I know I’m enough now. I didn’t know that for a very long time. It’s been a difficult behavior to change, and it’s kept me stuck for such a long time. 

The antidote for healing my back was healing my life. 

The antidote for curing scarcity mindset is knowing you are enough. Knowing that you matter. Knowing that you are valued. And living in alignment with that knowledge and applying it to every area of your life. 

YOU MATTER! I MATTER! There’s so much relief in knowing that I matter.