Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuning in and speaking up

Hanging out with a fostered kitten.

I have been practicing over this past summer and fall this process where I tune in every five minutes or whenever I remember during the day. I ask myself, "How do you feel?" Then I name the emotion and ask myself "Why do you feel like this?" Then I would give the reason, and the emotion would go through me and release. There it went, gone. And I was free to move on with my daily activities until I felt rumpled and would check in again. Quite an experience for a chronic emotion bottler. It still feels odd, like I just stole a bar of chocolate out of a friend's cupboard and am sitting crouched in a dark walk in closet savoring each delicious bite, hoping nobody will discover me and my hidden luxury. It felt taboo, but really good. Which goes to show, perhaps, how misinformed I have been for quite some time of the healthiness of such a habit like owning an emotion and freely expressing it. It isn't a punishable past time, and I don't have to be ashamed of my emotions. Nobody's gonna get me and beat me for indulging in this routine, even though I sure did have that fear for quite some time... internalized and woven deep in my psyche. Now I know better. Now I know it's healthy and ok to do this.

So, I am on a journey of honoring  the self. I went to my third chiropractic appointment the other day. I am quite stoked to be committed to self care on a regular basis. After the first two visits, it felt like I was stirring up a mad bee's nest of pain though, as the treatment honestly hurt like the dickens in the office, and continued in this manner for days afterward. The doctor was pressing on my trigger points so hard I kept wincing, and the myofacial release wasn't the most pleasant sensation. On reflecting back now, I don't think I remember checking in with myself the first couple weeks of treatment to evaluate my own view of the situation.

The morning of my third appointment, I woke up feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck. Dang it! But I was determined to be a trooper.  At the last minute, I brewed some coffee and poured it in my handy travel mug for the road. Fast forward to the point where I am getting out of the car and walking into the chiropractor lobby. The ground began to roll under my feet, I went green in the face and had to make a run to the loo. Trembling, shaking, what was going on? This used to be my everyday normal, but the last six months this has rarely happened. 

So I dragged myself up to the receptionist and whispered that I didn't feel well. Stumbled out the door, and my sister was waiting to drive me home. But five minutes along the road, I am suddenly feeling better, more grounded and balanced. Did I want to stop at Redners for some potatoes? Sure! So we stopped at the grocery store and did some sight seeing there, as I hadn't yet been in this particular store. We had a lovely time, then drove around the neighborhood taking scenic back roads and enjoying the last bright leaves of autumn.

After we got home, I realized that my body earlier in the day had been screaming in a drastic way because I had forgotten to check in with my wants and speak out. All along, I doubted whether that chiropractor was a good fit for me, but didn't let myself acknowledge it. Perhaps because I didn't listen to my inner voice and call in to cancel the appointment, my body made sure I cancelled. 

Similar situations have occurred over the past few years. I forced myself to go to certain places and be around certain people who were domineering and toxic, people I wanted to speak up to but didn't have the physical and emotional energy to confront. And deep down I knew it would be pointless to confront them. A close minded person will not hear you if they don't want to, you just get blue in the face and waste your breath for no reason. Each time I forced myself to go be in these toxic, repressive situations, my legs would go weak, I would get dizzy and sick. Now I'm living in a new neighborhood far from these people, and I feel like I am respecting myself for the first time in a long time. 

So tuning into my intuition and honoring myself is such a huge new world. I am quite rusty at this, but at least I am aware of what I am striving for, and I am trying! 

My biggest roadblock to honoring my inner voice might be the desire to not be a pest to others. Honoring someone else's view over my own was automatic. The old me believed that the "good girl" does not inconvenience others. She says yes as often as possible, and highly inconveniences herself so others can have easier lives. She is a work horse, and tirelessly gives to others at her own expense. Because she's not worth anything else, not worthy to even lift her eyes or breath the air she is breathing. Egads, not fun to unearth these ghosts, these guiding beliefs that are downright silly when I actually type them out.

It's funny, I used to be so flexible, easy to work with, a people pleaser who never checked in to see what I needed. I didn't have special needs. I didn't ask to turn the heat up or down, I was able to work long hours, work overtime, not need lunch breaks or bathroom breaks. I was able to fill in for others when a job was too much for them. I was able to go without sleep or cut my sleep short to help another. I was hardy and sturdy and never had to tune in or act like a princess needing special treatment. I did whatever others asked of me, no questions asked most of the time, without asking for anything from others... pretty much ever. 

Now it is quite a different picture. "Needy" is my middle name.  Yay, let's celebrate that! First it's too hot, then too cold... burning up, then freezing. No, I can't eat wheat, or soy or eggs, or dairy, but butter is fine. Yes, the dinner you prepared for me looks delicious but I can't try it.  No, I can't leave the house and go with you to that holiday party, yes I did say I could go with you and I am dressed and ready to go out the door but suddenly I do not feel well and can't go. Yes, I see I am letting you down again and I am so sorry.  Can you turn the radio off, it is too loud and sends me into hyper drive. Can you turn that light off, it is making this migraine worse. Can you just not talk to me at all, I can not even speak right now. Can you walk slower, please. Can you buy me Tylenol? Oh, I can't use that toothpaste, it has parabens in it. Ooh, the nonstick pan is scratched, can you get some ceramic pans that won't leach toxins or heavy metals. No, darling niece, I can't ride bikes with you, Aunty is tired. Hi, I need to cancel this appointment... oh, for what day, ummm, today, like an hour from now. Oh, I am not able to give 24 hour notice, as I was fine 24 hours ago, I just got sick this morning. And on and on.

It is jarring to have receptionist after receptionist give you a tone, as if I am an irresponsible slacker. Which I am not!  It is tough to not be able to plan ahead and not give a definite RSVP. I see the hurt and disappointment in Karl's eyes when time and again I dodge out of going to a party with him last minute.I highly dislike letting people down and telling good people "no." It is also difficult when people don't respect me or even believe I am sick, as ME/CFS is still so abstract and vague. Being made to feel guilty when I ask for special help happens to me on and off in my house and with people I make appointments with. It is so tempting to want to just shut myself down so I don't have to keep hurting people's feelings and letting people down, risking them getting fed up with going out of their way continually for me.  Other people's resistance to and disapproval of my special needs is a strong deterrent that makes me want to repress myself more, but to do so is not an option for me anymore. If I repress my needs, my body is at the point where it will deeply malfunction until it gets my attention.

So, since we are on the topic of tuning in and honoring the self, I would like to share that I looked up some more chiropractors in the area and found two that seemed promising. I did muscle testing to figure out which would be a more suitable fit for me. I was surprised because I kept getting No's for a more specialized atlas chiropractor I was initially interested in, and I got affirmatives for this other office where a team of three women practices. I also am looking into reiki and massage as options as well. Either way, I am going to tune in to myself before going in any one direction. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Old factory

Do you experience moments of deja vu? Have you ever entered a room or stumbled upon a new place that makes you instantly feel like you were there before, even though you have no logical memory of being there?

 I've had this experience a few times in my life, beginning at age 6. A couple years ago, I moved to an apartment that was set on the edge of a woods that bordered the property of an old chair factory. I discovered a walking trail that wound around the perimeter of the factory, and found myself walking on the trail several times a week. The first time I walked past the factory, it was dusk on a July evening. Long shadows fell from the edges of the building, but several of the windows were lit up brightly. There were no blinds and no people inside. No cars in the parking lot. Yet night after night, year in and year out, multiple windows would be lit up late into the evening.

I was spooked out, needless to say. In a good way. Like when you are in the mood for a good horror movie, just to get the hairs on your body to stand up on end for a bit.  If it was late at night I would walk past the factory at a fast speed, looking over my shoulder every few minutes.
But I was meaning to share about the deja vu experience. It happened during the day while I was walking on the jogging trail, the one in the photo to the right. As I went around the curve, I noticed another factory further to the right. At the edge of this factory, I saw a slope of ground that I instantly knew used to support a group of picnic tables perhaps a century to a quarter century ago. And I knew that I had been there before. Not in this lifetime, of course. Suddenly, I saw a huddle of folks around the tables. I got the feeling it was during the Depression Era. I saw a man in the group who was wearing a cap, saggy white T shirt, suspenders, and baggy pants. I knew I was him. There was a heavy atmosphere over the group, and I knew something traumatic had happened. There was a fight over a woman, someone I was interested in. Some other man must have been edging in and it made me upset. There was a dropped cigar, an accidental fire, and part of the factory went up in smoke. Fast forward and I see the forlorn bunch at the outdoor tables. I'm not there, but some of the others miss me and occasionally remember me when they sit on break out at the tables on that slope of ground. The slope of ground I pass each day when the current me is out walking.

The drama is palpable but brief,  only surfacing when I walk by that particular spot. I see images flashing by quickly like I'm flipping back the pages in a book really fast. I have to really focus to catch the glimpses. I feel kind of hugged each time I sense the others sitting at that table remembering the incident and missing me.

But back to the present moment. The factory here spreads out in different wings like a maze, with several different out buildings hidden in undergrowth. This outbuilding is visible from the road beside my house where I often walk, and grows into the side of a hill. It catches a breeze through the open door. Sometimes the door to this little building is open, other days when I would walk by, it would be closed.

This shot was taken mid afternoon on a hot July day as I was going by on the trail that runs alongside the factory.  Fascinating that they still prop up the windows with no screens and use plug in fans. Time stopped ticking here several decades ago. Maybe we have stepped back in time to discover this old factory.

A view of the inner workings of chair assembly, taken from a sidewalk and main road running along one edge of the factory.

Another close up of some shelved chair pieces.

Getting dark on the trail where I walk, but the windows glow in a rich, otherworldly way.

Dusk, and late afternoon sun baths old factory walls.

No cars to be seen, but lights are still on and there's the occasional whistle, wheeze and pop from somewhere deep in the underbelly of the factory.

The spook factor I get just from glancing at this photo and remembering walking past it on summer evenings is delicious, full of goosebumps. The air is heavy with cicadas and crickets and there's a slight breeze as it gets darker.

Love the mossy, dank green aura of the overhang light here. Would often get the shivers going down this road. I would cut through here sometimes as a shortcut from the local walking trail to my backyard. No one from the factory ever seemed to mind.

The green light here always reminded me of the green globes that marked the underground metro stations in NYC. The beckoning green of a mossy underground cave saying, "Enter here."

Always wondered about the strip of light under this shed door. Didn't matter if I was walking by at ten o clock at night, the light was still on. I bet there was a ghost or two putting in some overtime hours, unbeknownst to the rest of the factory staff.

This is where the magic happens. The photo here cuts off the top, but there is a hinged lid on top of this contraption that opens to let steam out. Talk about jumping a mile high. First time I innocently walked down the road past this contraption, minding my own business, it let out a bellow and screech, followed by a long whistle and pop, like a huge car backfiring in your ear. I leaped in my tracks and my heart froze because the beast was right next to me. And was still randomly groaning and gasping. Then shuddering and shaking. Whoa. I imagine this is what Charlie's Chocolate Factory sounds like. On a day when the parts are rusted and right about ready to quit, but still keep a grinding, LOL. I got used to the random explosions after a few weeks of living in the neighborhood and walking by. I miss the novelty now. No old factories where I live now. 

I spent the last two months of this past summer snapping photos of the factory when I went out on walks. I knew I would be moving from the neighborhood by the time summer ended. So I was determined to capture the factory's essence somehow. Since I had to pass through the maze of this factory from either my main street, side street, the local walking trail or the shortcut between the two, I have had plenty of opportunities to take photos. I don't know, it's like these old buildings got under my skin. They are full of character, personality and history. Maybe even mystery. I feel attached somehow, as if part of my story is ingrained in the memories of these peeling walls. I dunno. The labyrinth of this  factory is beautiful.

I will miss you, factory.