3 (not so) Easy Steps to Trusting Yourself

  1. Say  you’re going to do something.
  2. Do it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

I’m gonna do something. Don’t state unmeasurable goals. Don’t say ‘I’m gonna lose weight’ – there’s no time limit and no weight stated. Say instead ‘I’m gonna go to the gym three times a week’ or ‘I’m gonna eat a salad every day before I have my dinner’. These are concrete and measurable goals.

Do it. No excuses, no alibis. Commit, and follow through. As long as you follow through, no self-bashing allowed. If your head starts to berate you, saying ‘Sure, you went to the gym but you never even worked up a sweat’ or ‘Great, you had salads but they were slathered with dressing’ – tell your head to go to hell. The trick to part 2 is just to do it, not do it well, not master it or get it all done in one go. Just DO it. All that crap your head is telling you in step 2 should be shoved off to step 3.

Repeat steps 1 and 2. Now is when you master it. Now is when you find your stride. In the repeats. It’s called practice, and everyone needs it. Push a little harder at the gym. Use less salad dressing. Take what you began with in step 2 and build on it.

We have this weird self denial going on: sometimes – even when we know a thing will take a long time to manifest – we act like it should be happening instantaneously. I see people at the gym like that all the time. They come in, they put heavy weights on, they power lift for 20 or 30 minutes, and then they don’t come back for a week or more. Or someone ‘diets’ for a week and expects to see a big change in the scales.

If you’re making a real change in your life, it’s long term. Long term not just to get there, but also to maintain.

And kiddies, trust is all about long term.

If someone with a perfect track record fucks up – badly – even once, …well, you doubt him or her next time, don’t you? Even if you don’t want to. Even if that person is your closest friend. Some part of pipes up and reminds you of that disaster and the possibility that it could happen again. Same is true with yourself. Fuck up on a commitment to yourself just ONCE, and you’ll have to work twice as hard to regain the trust you just lost.

Two tips:

  1. Start small. Build your trust in yourself like you would with a child. Ask yourself to stand up, first – not run full out like an Olympic champion. You’re a baby. Stand up and keep your balance, then give yourself a gold star. Yeah, it’s tough. Tough to tell yourself you’re doing well when you feel a fool, or when you feel you should be able to do more. Ignore it, and praise yourself. After you stand, take a step. Then two steps. Expect to fall on your ass more than once. Get up, and try again.
  2. If it helps, make a list. If you’re a self doubter, a self hater, make a list of everything you want to accomplish every day, like a grocery list. Then check ’em off. At the end of the day, praise yourself for all the checked off items. Move unchecked items to tomorrow’s list. Keep at it.

The good news: once you begin to establish trust with yourself, it snowballs. The process becomes easier.

And just like anything else, keep at it. Fail a few times. Take time off from it. But always – ALWAYS – come back to this basic equation. It’s a key component to life, and one most of us aren’t taught.

Take it upon yourself to learn it.

Puberty at 51

It is a source of continual amazement to me that people who voted for 45 – restricting human rights, killing the environment, degrading women – are shocked when I inform them we can no longer be friends. I’ve been told to ‘grow up’ and ‘get over it’, or better yet: ‘it’s just stupid politics and you’re far less of a person than I thought’.

Wow.

As a measure of my self restraint, I’ve said nothing in reply. Good on me.

Feels like I’ve taken the first step towards adulthood. Sticking to my ethics. Saying “no”. No more! I won’t take it.

And you’re fucking surprised.

Seems you didn’t know me at all.

Now I may have to deal with a troll on FB. My ex pen-pal, who voted for 45 and said ‘it wasn’t a big deal’ (among other language that PISSED ME OFF) sent three messages telling me to fuck off then three more emojis throughout the night to make sure I knew he wasn’t okay with any of it.

One more message from him and I’m reporting him. I DO not and WILL not take being fucked around with on a social network.

And what goes through people’s minds? That this kind of behavior will reflect any better on them? That I’ll change my mind and say ‘oh, sorry! you’re so upset; let me take it all back’? Um…nope. Should be a clue that it took me as long as it did to say what I said. Time = thought. I thought long and hard about it. Thought about my ethics and moral stance, thought about the friendship, forgiveness, taking the higher road – all of it.

So let me make this utterly clear one more time:

I am not some messiah, willing or able to turn the other cheek after you abuse me.

Expecting me to be is on YOUR head. Telling me I’m wrong for my feelings is on YOUR head.

I’m not wrong. Now let me throw back your own language at you.

Suck it up, snowflakes. You big fucking babies! Whine, whine, whine. Sorry you’re so fucking stupid you don’t realize that when you shout obscenities at me and my friends, when you take away our rights, or when you destroy the planet I react with anger. I think your ignorance is on your own head, too. Read a book!

Went to the gym yesterday to try and burn it out. Two hours. I was tired, less angry afterwards, but not completely calm (obviously).

Didn’t help that my language lesson lacked ANY sense of direction. First, we were asked to pull random words out of the fucking air and make sentences. Then we were told to use ‘omdat’ (because) and corrected on grammar without being told the grammatical rules. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be learning. Couldn’t take anything down because the instructors said the correct sentences once and then quickly moved on. I was bored, angry for having my time wasted, and frustrated because I now KNOW how much better a lesson can be.

Fucking hell!

Happy news: have all of next week off. Thursday is Hemelvaartsdag (Ascension Day), and Friday a lot of stuff is closed to ensure a long weekend. Perfect for me! An entire week free of classes or appointments. I can write. Get the radio script loaded into the software, make the formatting changes, send it out and move onto the next script. Already stepped out the scenes for the next one in my brain. I think I can do it with 4 actors and very minimal set dressing. Can’t wait to get started; it’s timely, creepy, and easy to do as a production.

…You know, if I keep coming up with these horror/Twilight Zone plays, I’m gonna get a reputation for being able to write them. Maybe I can; it IS what I’m coming up with. But I think it’s all a fluke. I’m just stumbling into them. Discovering them by accident. I’m not setting out to write them. Gotta admit, they’re fun to create. And maybe I should let go of any expectations I have of myself. If I turn into a female Clive Barker, well…that’s not all bad, is it?

Ha! Listen to me. Dodging the flack thrown at my head and accepting my limitations and abilities. Now, that IS really growing up!

Can a person hit puberty at 51?

 

F*ck

Remember meds refills tomorrow. Don’t forget methotrexate; take the box in (no refill number). Stop by doctor’s office regarding hearing problem.

Today’s tidy up seems so much more impressive after a few days of intensive scrubbing. Things are just cleaner. Unfortunately there’s pain radiating from my wrist, so keep it light for a few days – no heavy lifting, no wonky wrist activity. Better to maintain at this level than overdo it for one day, resulting in long term inactivity – again. Got to put in that ‘again’ to remind myself.

Break these bad habits.

Contracts: ugh. No other word for it. My first form on the chop block was pretty standard. Now I’m stepping into custom territory, and it’s all a big soup of this term or that, specific clauses and uniform language. Taking a day off. Need more examples. Need a bleeding law degree to do this right, but reminding myself that anything I can tackle is one less thing we have to pay for.

Managed to stave off my second smoke until noon. Not as good as I’d like; not as bad as I’d feared.

Really should get into the shower later. I have to go out there soon, and that means people will be able to smell me (even if I still can’t).

Is this repetitious merry-go-round gonna stop anytime soon?

Find myself picking up hard of hearing habits. I tilt my head towards sound sources, trying to make out what’s going on. When people talk, I do my best to watch their lips. It helps me fill in what I’m missing. Ye gods! I don’t want this to become my normal. It’s interesting, tho, how quickly I’ve adopted these tactics.

Worried today. My bro’s in more meetings. Goddess, let things go well. Worried about his stress level, his health, the outcome, finances to cover all this, my health and physical ability to take another move, pain levels, lack of smoke and smoking too much, going off meds (again), red tape, prejudices and national level pay-back.

Worried that no one cares.

Find it difficult to occupy myself during the day when so many of my usual options are closed to me. Shouldn’t even be typing this, with my wrist pain, but if I don’t my head will explode and no one wants that. Music? Nope. Cleaning? Again, nope. Writing? Not right now. Even holding a book hurts my wrist. I really should be sitting in my chair, watching tv, and doing nothing with my hand. Which is probably undoubtedly where I’ll end up.

That just sucks. For a day or two once in a while, maybe. Okay, even. But day after day because of this health problem or that painful joint? Drives me fucking insane. And it seems I always fall into this rut, where one thing after another keeps me down for extended periods of time. Insane laughter upon insane laughter because this is me being kind to my body. Push it and all I hear is ‘you shouldn’t do that’ or ‘you can’t continue to do that’.

Fuck.

How much?

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Me: There’s this high pitched ringing in my ear that doesn’t go away…it’s driving me crazy!

Nurse: Try this for a week.

A week! Forgive me if I start to just post Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz in future. I can’t hear much else. And insanity just around the corner has always been a danger for me….

Got outside the apartment for my physio appointment. A short span of fresh air did me good; I feel stronger mentally. Still the same physically – oh, with an added cough from the sinus spray they’ve got me on now (ugh). Today the winds are whipping and the rain pouring, so it’s a no-go zone for moi.

Heard from friends. Love them to bits for throwing me a life line when I needed it. Just a little direct contact means so much.

Feel a shift coming on. A life shift. It’s big, whatever it is. I hope it includes full acceptance of my age and physical capabilities. That’s what I’ve been struggling with. Being this side of cool. Let’s face it: I’ve never been here before and I don’t know how to handle it. My parents were two generations older than me and while they might have been cool at 20, they were already a long ways away from their coolness by the time I came around. My DNA siblings were never cool.

I did see a beautiful woman once, and it’s a memory I hang onto. She was old, older than old – full of wrinkles and sagging skin. And she stood proudly in the street, with her hair multicolored and a clubbing outfit hanging off her that probably should have been on a woman half her age. She defied me to see her. And I saw her. I saw her and smiled. Not because I thought she looked ridiculous. Not at all. It was because I was taking a picture in my head. I wanted to remember her always. That proud woman, thumbing her nose at every age convention. Yes, I thought. Now that’s something to aim for.

Oh, I want to be one of those people you hear about. Someone who skydives at 90 or runs a marathon or keeps their smile on no matter what misfortune befalls them. I fall short most days. There are still moments of energy and youth and optimism that burn so bright you can’t help but notice, but for the most part my feathers have lost their color and I have become a wallflower – passed by, and unnoticed. I know I’m mixing my metaphors. Who cares? I’m old enough to get away with a little madness.

I guess the only question remaining is: how much madness can I get away with?

I am a Vengeful Person

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I have looked strange the past 24 hours. I know it. Because every time I remind myself to think success without revenge, I’ve stopped. Frozen completely – even mid-stride. It’s difficult to remember to change my thinking habits, and even harder to do. Each time I have to build it up from the ground – calm, no family, see it, hear it – bit by bit I construct it, view it dispassionately, then I remember I’m mid-stride or mid whatever and I come back to myself with a ‘huh!’. The things I’ve found in my brain have been small. Simple. And success has lost its frenetic energy; it’s become a calm and measured thing. Most measures of success I have for myself as an artist are things I can already lay claim to: having someone moved to tears by my performance, hearing that something I did changed someone’s life. The only thing I’m missing is being able to cover my expenses by my art.

I think you are too hard on yourself. That’s a quote from my very cute physiotherapist, tho I can’t write in his adorable bleeding Dutch accent. He made me laugh. Obviously, I have been myself with him. And obviously, he’s too hard on himself in some ways since he saw it so readily in me. I got him to really open up and talk about football (soccer, if you’re in the states). He’s on a semi-pro team as goalie and admitted that he’s a hard ass when it comes to winning on the field, which is completely counter to the person he presents to the rest of the world. It gave me a good insight to him that he hadn’t let me see before, and honestly, I feel I can relate to him even more now that his veneer of perfection has a dent in it.

Picked up Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Man, I love Russian writers! I admit it’s difficult to get past the names, but the writing -! Often I have to pause and consider the perfection of the thought presented to me. This book got me from the start, with the first sentence:

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

That’s a sentence I want tattooed on my bleeding forehead. It’s got to be the single most gorgeous line I’ve ever read, truly yummy in my brain and my soul. Ah! To write like a Russian! Tolstoy just gets me right down to the core.

Went to my language lesson this morning, which more and more often is a one-on-one thing since the other student rarely shows up. I had quite a bit of apprehension: my sick time didn’t include one moment of Dutch, and I felt pretty rusty and out of it. But we kept on, and props to my teacher who found a simpler text for me to read out of. I’m going paragraph by paragraph, getting pronunciation correction when I need it and switching to English when I don’t understand something. Simple things blow me away. In Dutch, you stop something in your mouth rather than put something in your mouth. That kind of stuff trips me up every damned time. Or remembering what lays or what stands on a table. Ach! But I don’t feel so bad about language at the moment, and that’s a new and different (and very welcome) feeling. I’ve been laughing at the irony of reading Tolstoy in English while struggling with Dutch text meant for a nine year old. It’s a perfect example of why I’m frustrated. I enjoy Tolstoy. Really enjoy it. I really enjoy a lot of traditionally ‘hard’ reads. So trust me, struggling to understand simple text is just freaking difficult and to have even the slightest relaxation of that frustration is a cool blessing on my brain.

Tomorrow, of course, I have to deal with a teacher who isn’t so nice to me. But that’s tomorrow, and I refuse to borrow any trouble right now.

What with getting out of the house for hair appointments (yes, it’s done), physiotherapy, and language lessons, I’ve had more fresh air and exercise in the past 24 hours than I’ve had in weeks. It’s served to underscore the fact that I’m not really well yet – I’m damned tired by the end of the day and back to falling asleep in front of the tv. Which is a good reminder, because naturally I’m feeling more and more antsy and a trip to the gym has been crossing my mind with regularity. Not ready for it yet. Maybe next week.

You know…I really don’t know what I’m building here. With the crush on my physiotherapist and my language attempts and all this non-revenge visualization. Not a bleeding clue. I don’t know if I’d go out with my physiotherapist even if he asked me, and believe me, I’ve thought about that one a lot. I don’t know if I’ll ever really feel comfortable with Dutch. Even Dutch people have told me it’s a dull language and English offers so much more expression. And the non-revenge stuff…I’m ashamed to admit to how deep revenge goes in me. How much of a hole is left in my life when I take that out of the equation. Gah! What the hell does that say about me? I don’t like the message. I don’t like what I see.

Maybe that’s my lesson. Maybe it’s been the vengeful part of me I’ve never really liked. Never thought about it that way before. And I know, like an alcoholic, I’ve got to admit it before I can move on.

Hi, I’m Beeps, and I’m a vengeful person.

Decision made

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Yesterday I received a b-day wish from my oldest brother, who still lives in the states. Dealings with my oldest brother, D, have always been tricky. Something happened to him on one of our family trips. We stopped to fill up the gas tank in Tennessee. He disappeared for 10 minutes behind the station. When he came back to the car, that was it. He changed. He began saying ‘maw’ and ‘paw’ rather than mom and dad, found a Dixie style hat he wore into the ground, and started growing a scraggly and unkempt beard. He was never the same afterwards.

Sometimes I think aliens abducted my real brother and left a fake in his place. That’s how big the change was.

So the message reads “Happy birthday, little sister. I love you. It’s been so long since we’ve hugged and now I think we never will again.” That’s typical. This is the first time in over a year since I’ve heard from him. He always (1) has an overt reason to contact me, like a birthday, (2) calls me his little sister as if to invoke our DNA tie in some ritualistic mumbo-jumbo, and then (3) throws a healthy heaping spoonful of guilt onto the pile to try to make me feel as sad as he does.

This is the guy who supported Trump.

This is the guy who I’m pretty sure was in love with me while I grew up.

And while I admit that everyone is a fluid artwork, changing every minute of every day, that particular work of art turns my stomach. His canvas is filled with black oil and red blood. There are scratches and gouges, huge slashes across his surface. Ash and cement and bones are all mixed in, sticking out here and there, making what could be a smooth and lovely picture into something grotesque.

He is a mockery of a man, and his surface resemblance to my father just makes it all that much worse.

There. I’ve said it. I always go on about my sister – and trust me, she’s a big enough bitch you could go on and on and never reach the end of her crap – but I rarely discuss my oldest brother. Certainly, dodging his covert and sometimes overt sexual advances taught me a lot about *wince* “leading men around by their dicks”. Should I say thanks for that? Goddess knows, it helped shape me. I don’t feel it was one of those things that was good for me, though. I am a skewed monkey.

Pity. That’s what I always felt for him. Pity. Pity that he so obviously fawned over me. Pity that he would never admit to his feelings so he could never move beyond them. So much pity that in the end, I knew my moving far, far away would be as good for him as it was for me.

This is one of those things I’m fairly certain everyone in the family picked up on but never discussed. I’m fairly certain of it because of a message I received from my nephew, my brother’s son, a few years after I left. It accused me of ‘abandoning’ his father, my oldest brother. Like we were married. Oh, there was plenty of language in that message just from my nephew, too. If my brother felt that way about me, my nephew definitely thought of me as a ‘mother’ figure. Plenty of hurt to go around between those two.

Small wonder I ran away with the one family member who didn’t make me feel wrong in one way or another. I’ve caught plenty of looks from people when I tell them I live with my bro. It’s always the same, and you don’t even have to speak any particular language to understand it: what’s wrong with her? Like they expect me at any moment to begin shouting obscenities and twitching due to Tourette Syndrome, or say that I’m in the last stages of some illness and about to drop dead. I don’t know how, yet, to put my life into a nutshell. To state in one or two sentences the full why of my situation. Usually, I slough it off with my RA. These days that statement is truer than ever before. I just couldn’t live alone; it’s too much for me. But that’s not how it began. In the beginning, it was my choice. And it was a hard choice to make; at that point in my life I had difficulty stating what I preferred watching on television much less what I wanted to DO with my life. That’s how screwed up I was. Couldn’t make any choices because I’d been made to feel that all my choices were wrong. My bro helped me through that. Kept reminding me of the person I was before. Before the abusive ex, before the stalking. Before the full psychosis of my family let loose on me and me alone as my bro went into military service. He kept giving me choices. He kept telling me it was my job to heal.

He still says that to me.

I don’t know if now is the time to stand up. Say what I need to say to my oldest brother in a last message – I certainly wouldn’t expect to hear from him again if I ever do send it. Or do I listen to my father whispering in my ear ‘don’t burn your bridges‘. But, dad – D was never a bridge for me. Never a healthy bridge. He’s a diseased bridge. A bridge that could collapse any moment, taking me down with it. And look at me! A full post moaning and explaining. I shouldn’t have to explain this much. I shouldn’t feel that awful ‘oh, goddess!’ feeling every single time I have to deal with someone. No, dad, some bridges should be burned. In fact, they NEED to be burned to make way for the new.

What do you know: decision made.

Feelin’ it

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Panic. Hit me last night while watching tv. I guess I was triggered by the film; it DID center on a homeless character. All I know is for about 3 seconds I was THERE, in the future, my brother dead, me homeless and destitute, on the street, waiting to die. My whole body went into shock. Breathing was difficult. My chest tightened up and I didn’t know if I was going to vomit, pass out, or both.

Recovery took much longer than the 3 seconds or so of adrenaline flooding my system. Half an hour later I was still drawing deep breaths, looking around, telling myself I was HERE and it was NOW and not happening to me.

I can’t even begin to describe that level of terror. Words fail me.

My mother used to say my imagination was my worst enemy. I did that all the time as a kid; just flaked out. Got hysterical. Had panic attacks. Over a LOT of stuff. And people would tell me ‘just don’t think about it’. I never understood that. How can you NOT think about it? Especially when that kind of thing hits you. Trust me, it took a lot to bring myself back.

And I’m still scared. I just won’t look it straight in the eye right now.

Yes, I’m smoking. Fuck it. Fuck off, everyone. This shit wasn’t happening to me when I was smoking on a regular basis. Get me onto this ‘recreational’ use and suddenly I’m fucking having panic attacks.

I KNOW that’s because I’m finally accessing it. I don’t want to access it THAT fast.

I couldn’t smoke when it happened. I don’t think I lit up for at least 15 minutes afterwards. I was still having problems breathing.

Just writing about it makes it hard to breathe.

…Damn it. Thinking about the flipping panic attack makes me feel like I’m on the edge of one.

Shift your focus.

Went swimming this morning. It’s become a chore. I’m clock watching again. Waiting for at least 40 minutes to go by before I feel I can get out of the pool. My black mood seems to have spread thru the pool; despite there being 6-8 people in the fast lane and at least as many in the slow lane, my lane was left largely to me. Two people swam with me for about 15 minutes each. I’ve swum before and shot out that ‘get the fuck out of my way!’ vibe towards slow pokes who hold me up. Did it work? Or am I dripping something else in the pool these days? Is this panic and angst leaching out of me and into the water?

Can they feel it?

Ironic how many times I ached to be left alone in my lane, yet when that time comes I feel paranoid and outcast.

Fuck! This isn’t helping.

Stopped by George’s canal on the way back. Now the ducks are in mating season, and VERY territorial. One pair ruled the patch of grass I stood on, so I didn’t get to interact with George. I think I spotted him, on the water, and tossed some bread his way. But we didn’t do our one on one thing. I’ve got to find an area where the other ducks will let him approach me.

Language class this morning. One student returned, and we had a new student today as well. Flipping amazing. The new student has lived here 19 years and has 4 children. She can talk okay, though she has a heavy accent and gets the grammar mixed up. But she can barely read. Can you imagine? That long and barely able to read. Our teacher had no problems understanding her; she’s from a Portuguese speaking country and drops all her h’s. Our teacher recognized her accent right away, but the rest of us had problems understanding her. Man! Like the language isn’t tough enough; I’ve also got to learn Dutch on different accents. No wonder the native Dutch get titchy about their language. It’s loosening up fast and getting replaced by English.

ANYway…

More words, more sentences. Did more thinking when I spoke today so I made less mistakes, tho I spoke at a slower rate. Talked about cousins, which in Dutch uses the same word as niece or nephew or goes to the longer ‘the son/daughter of my mother’s/father’s sister/brother’. Then we drilled words relating to cars autos (might as well get used to using the Dutch word) which I had a really hard time remembering…mostly because I didn’t go over last week’s work at all. Discussed the difference between ‘ruit’ (the glass of a window) and ‘raam’ (the entire window, or frame), which then clicked on a dozen ahas! in my brain and a lot more suddenly made sense. Talked about ‘wandelen’ (wandering), and how the only time you’d say ‘Ik wandel’ (I wander) is when you’re actually out on a walk and your mobile rings. Otherwise, it’s ‘Ik ga wandelen’. Good to know when I walk all the time.

…*sigh* Nothing like a good load of laundry to bring you back to reality. The fussiness of getting it hung up to dry just anchors me. Same with doing dishes. Probably the same with hoovering, or vacuuming, or, as the Dutch say, dustsucking. I wouldn’t know; I loathe it. Loathe DOING it. I love the results.

Gimme a cheer; I splashed out on myself with a couple of hair products. Didn’t buy the cheapest I could find. I actually spent more than I needed to and got something with quality. I’ve now got a hair clasp that actually, really holds my thick hair back off my face and neck. And I’ve got two – two – finishing products, one for blowdrying and one for air drying.

A bit more work and I might actually look like I can rejoin the human race.

Now to just feel like it…