Today is the 8 month mark in this journey and I am happily spending the day with friends in Terrace.
What to write about today? Well, I am home now and having a really great visit. I arrived with much anxiety about how things would go and yes, found myself slipping back into familiar habits just briefly. That experience scared me a lot. I thought catastrophic thoughts of “I'll never be able to exist in the world away from the bubble of treatment” and “I was too hopeful, this is going to be a disaster”. Those weren't the worst of the experience as I can identify them for what they are – absolute manifestations of my fears and anxiety – the worst part was the creeping in of feelings of hopelessness to a degree I haven't experienced in a long time. I doubted myself so strongly, I negated any progress I had made and wondered if it had all been an act that I didn't even notice I had been putting on. I slipped into a very dark mental place especially at night and had to seek out mental reasons to get up the next morning.
I didn't talk about it but now that I have overcome it I wonder if I should have. I realized that I was reacting and worried that if I expressed what I was thinking that others would react in a way that wouldn't actually help me move forward. If I had been someone on the outside I would have been scared for me and likely done everything in my power to protect the person that was me. Instead, I conjured up the strength I know that I have, I refused to give up yet again and I committed to not only getting through this but being successful. It worked! I pushed myself back onto the waggon of wellness and threw myself into the unknown (the unknown being the experience of taking care of myself in my old environment). It took quite the effort to resolve to be differently than ever before but as soon as I started implementing the changes I know are real and refused to entertain the doubts that were snaking in, I drifted gently back into myself and improvement was immediate.
What helped very much was seeing my doctor the day I arrived in Terrace. I wish I had a picture of his face when he saw me. The following day we went together to visit the staff at the hospital – I think he nearly burst with pride. The shock value was incredible. It's just me, I love shocking people but up until now, it has more often than not been a negative shock: how thin I have gotten how quickly; how deeply I hurt myself; and little things like how many condiments I would use or how many meds I was on and still awake. This time, WOW. I would say 70% of the nurses had to do double and triple takes before they recognized me and their faces lit up with smiles I had never seen. Many just stood and stared with their mouths open. And I heard so much of how proud they were of me. All these reactions really bolstered my pride in myself and my desire to be successful. My GP is remarkably intuitive and our conversations are on a much more equal level now. I still see him as a guide but without the control I surrendered to him previously. Now, much is up for discussion and my input is as valuable as his. I am no longer the scared, angry, and scrappy little fawn I was before.
I was walking on clouds for the rest of that day and any intrusive negative thoughts dissipated. I have changed and it's real and I am not going to shrink back to that little thing that needed to be carried ever again.
I am becoming quickly aware of where others are at as I interact with them. I no longer doubt my thoughts and impressions and I am readily implementing compassion towards others. This is helping me stay patient and continue appreciating them for them and the relationships we have.
A major realization I've had is that there are a lot of people who really care about me and are invested in me on various levels. I worried that coming back would prove what I thought I knew: that people didn't care, that they would have an “it's about time” attitude towards me, that they wouldn't understand just how amazing the fact that I am not only alive but living really is. How wrong was I! There are more people coming to me, smiling with me, feeling proud of me, and wanting to know really how I am. I feel sad (for lack of a more articulate word) that I didn't realize this before. I denied so many people the opportunity to care about me. I pushed them away with the idea that they couldn't possibly really care about what happened with me and what I was going through. I chose to see solely the frustration that manifested on some occasions rather than the ever present compassion and caring. Now that I know what is real – that people care, that I am important to them, that I make a difference – I can hold onto that with a vice-like grip and allow myself the connectedness that I've always desired but been so afraid of. There is no need for fear now.
I was very reluctant to return to Portugal after I realized that I could be okay back here at home. I wanted to stay and just move on and jump into my life. I want(ed) to practice my new ways within the context that will be my reality when I am officially done the program. I argued that this is where I will need to strengthen my skills rather than in the bubble wrapped-environment of the villa and the program. I want to push myself to be okay here where everything isn't handed to me on a silver platter. I was gently reminded of what I already know: I have the rest of my life for that practice and this is not a process that needs to be rushed. I am making remarkable changes at quite a rate, that is a fact but I don't need to make this process more difficult than it already is; I don't need to force things, I can take my time and make this solid. As it turns out, I have quite a wait here while I apply for my visa to return to the EU. So, what was going to be a very short trip, has been extended to about 5 weeks. This is great for me because I can look at it as the beginning of my transition. I am being successful, I am strong, I am solid in my progress and I have 5 weeks to practice it. Then, I will return to the counsellors and the staff in Portugal and I will process it, I will learn, and I will be ready to come back to Canada and try again. It's all very exciting!
So, this anniversary is the best yet. Who knows what 9 months will hold for me!
Much love to all those suffering. Please hold onto the knowledge that there is hope and the possibilities – though impossible to see in the midst of the darkness – exist to an amazing degree for everyone.