Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The real reason I just told the story I told...

In my last post, I talked about BJ's ex... But, I want to make it clear... I judged her. My judgment may or may not be accurate. The accuracy of my judgments doesn't really matter. What matters is the way my judgment has motivated me in the past, and still motivates me.

In other words, this isn't about her, it's about me... and the way I think... and how that affects my daily life. And I didn't realize all of this while I was writing that post... but I am starting to see things more clearly...

I don't want to hurt him. I don't want to be selfish or self-centered. I don't want him to ever feel about me the way he felt about her. I don't want him to ever feel like his wants, needs, feelings, or thoughts don't matter. I don't want him to ever feel like he belongs to another person and especially not to me. I don't want him to feel obligated. I don't want him to feel controlled. I don't want him to feel like a slave.

That fear... of hurting him... or of being selfish... is a strong motivator. And it sometimes still gets in my way. I don't allow myself to have the healthy and happy relationships I want, because I am afraid that if I want, that want will somehow become abusive and controlling.

I don't know what else to say about it - because I am still working through the emotions and the false beliefs that have driven me for a long time. So... stay tuned? I will continue to work through my stuff and I plan to write about it as I do...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The story of us from the perspective of me

Yesterday, BJ's sister and sister-in-law both asked to hear "our story". They only knew the gossip, and what they had observed, but they wanted to hear the story of how we met and got together from my perspective.

So here it is, just a very short version of "our story" from my perspective.

I have felt loved by him from the first time we met. It wasn't a love specific to me, but I felt genuinely loved and cared for. There was something about him that I just knew I could trust him.

I have loved him since the first time he apologized to me, but maybe I need to back up just a bit.
Many years ago, he started calling me into his office regularly. He sensed things weren't quite right, and he wanted to help. He kept asking me questions, and wouldn't accept my lies. (I knew they were lies, but it took me a long time to finally talk about the things that were hurting.) Once I started being more honest, my life fell apart. Eating disorder took over. I told him about that, and he offered to be someone I could be accountable to.

Eating disorders are scary things, and he had no experience with them. He read and researched and tried to learn, but he ignorantly said things that made it worse for me. For everyone else I knew, I didn't dare tell them when their words or actions caused me pain, but I told him. I don't know why, or even how, but I told him he didn't understand and he was just making things worse.

He apologized. He told me I was right, he didn't understand, but he wanted to. He said he was sorry for making things worse, and asked what he could do different. I told him. I told him how I felt, and he listened, and we talked. We talked about what he was feeling. He was afraid. He was hurting, because he felt sad and helpless.

I walked away from the experience thinking, "This is how it is supposed to go. I've never experienced it like this, but this is how it is supposed to be."

I couldn't help but love him, and be VERY grateful for him. We could make mistakes around each other without forever damaging our growing friendship.

We continued to be friends. He was there for me. I listened to him. We shared things with each other that we had never dared share with anyone else... When we shared with each other, it didn't hurt like it had in the past. We could listen and validate and understand each other in a way I had never experienced before. His friendship filled a loneliness I didn't even know I had. (And although this isn't his story, it's mine, he has said the same thing about me.)

We were both married. Both of our marriages weren't good. We both had the goal to make them better. It didn't work out that way. The more I healed, the more I knew I couldn't stay married. BJ eventually got to the point where he couldn't take the way she treated him, and he left.

Did I know then that BJ and I would end up together?
No. I didn't plan on it. I just thought we could be there to support each other in the interim.

So, when did I start to know I wanted something different?
Two years after he had left his ex, she asked to meet with me. I didn't want to. She told me she needed to talk to me in order for her to find peace. My friends and support system said she was being manipulative with that statement. I felt like I had no choice... I hoped that maybe if I met with her, and she found some peace, she would treat BJ better. I had to do everything I could to try to make things better for him. It wasn't my responsibility, but I hated watching him be hurt by her over and over and over again. I would have done anything to ease his suffering. Meeting with her for a few hours seemed like a small thing to do.

She brought her journal, and a printout of my entire blog: highlighted and with notes taken on the sides. She wanted to tell me all of the things that I had said that she didn't agree with. I listened for a long time. She blamed me for her marriage ending. (Actually, she continues to blame me. The story now is very different from the one back then, but it doesn't matter. I am still the villain in her story.)

At the end of the four hour meeting, she told me that all she wanted was another chance. She asked me what I would do if BJ decided he wanted to start dating her again. I answered honestly, "I would support him. I love him, and I want him to be happy. I trust him to know what he needs to bring him happiness."

She thanked me. I was dying to ask her if she could say the same. If she loved him enough to want him to be happy, even if it meant he would never ask her on another date. I didn't do it. I felt like I knew the answer.

I felt angry at her. How could she be so selfish and self-centered? How could she think that he would ever want to go on a date with her when she had been such an ass to him? How could she want him to spend time with her when he had repeatedly told her how she hurt him? How could she keep insisting that he was wrong - her actions and her words didn't hurt him? Why would anyone want to spend seven seconds with someone that treats them like that, let alone an entire evening? Why didn't that woman care about anyone but herself?

A few days or weeks after that encounter, my mom asked me a question... or said something... I don't remember what it was... and I fell apart. (I do remember, I was driving... and I pulled over and sat in the car and sobbed next to the lake. I remember feeling relieved that it was winter, so there wasn't a million people around.)

Did I mean what I had told his ex? Did I love BJ and want him to be happy, even if it wasn't with me? Would I support him in whatever decision he made? If he wanted to start dating his ex again, what would I really do?

I would support him. I DO love him and I want him to be happy. I DO trust him to follow his path. AND I also wanted him to want to be with me. That realization caused a complete meltdown.

It didn't matter that he DID want to be with me. We had a great friendship. We loved fishing and riding and talking and just watching TV together. I knew that he loved being with me. He loved the conversations we had. We lived in the same house. We worked together. We were pretty much together all the time, but I still was so afraid...

I wasn't afraid that he wanted something different than what I wanted, I was afraid that I wanted something. I was worried that my wanting something suddenly made me selfish. And in my mind selfish equaled horrible human being.

I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle knowing how much I wanted to be with him. It was obvious to my mom, my friends, and BJ, but not to me. I had judged his ex as selfish and self-centered. Was I any different? If I wanted to be with him - how was that different than her wanting the same thing? I had watched her hurt him over and over and over... I didn't want to do that. I didn't know if it was possible to have wants of my own without treating him the way she treated him. It terrified me to think that I could use or abuse him the way I had seen her. I wanted to run away, but then I was aware enough to know that running away from him would also hurt him.

It took me many months to get comfortable with the idea that I wanted to be with him. In those months, we continued spending a lot of time together. Fishing. Riding. Hiking. Snowshoeing. Snowmobiling (I didn't like that as much. Too noisy. And smelly.) Camping. Traveling. Reading. Talking. Eating. Planning the future.

We went to Montana to visit his sister and her husband. It was a great trip, and once again I realized I wanted something. I liked being around BJ and family. Up until this point, BJ had met my parents and family. I had met his, but we didn't do anything together. My parents had been telling me for years that BJ was always welcome in their home, but I hadn't passed that message on to him. I made excuses to my family as to why he couldn't (or didn't want) to come. I didn't want it to be like that after I spent those days with him and sister.

While we were in Montana, my brothers called and asked if I wanted to go to Alaska with them. Of course I did. I wanted BJ to come, and I wanted us all to be together. I decided it would probably be good if they got to know him first. So, I started inviting him to dinner at my parents' house.

Gradually, things shifted, and I got more comfortable with the idea.

We went to Alaska, and it was awesome. When we came back, things had shifted again... We spent time together with each of our families. We slept in the same bed. We even use the label "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" occasionally. (Although, I still like the label of friend best.)

We spent the holidays with each other, and with our families. His kids came with their spouses and kids, and we had dinner and celebrated together. We went to my parents and spent time with my siblings, their spouses, and their dogs.

In preparation for Christmas plans, my mom asked me if BJ was a part of the family, and I answered the only way I could answer, "Yes. BJ is family now."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I remember, and I never want to be there again

Recently,  I was talking to a friend about her business. I thought her products were all "weight loss" products. She corrected me, and wanted to tell me the story of a girl that she'd helped gain weight.

This girl had been very sick. She couldn't keep any food down whatsoever. It wasn't a choice she made - there was something wrong with her body. She'd eat, and then seconds later it would all come back up. If she kept the amounts small enough, she MIGHT be able to digest the food. Doctors didn't know why. (They told her to just stop throwing up.)

K pulled out the pictures of this girl.
She looked so thin, so sick, near death. After taking K's supplements, this girl put on weight. She's been able to keep food down ever since.

The part of the story I want to share is what I felt as I looked at her pictures.
There was once a day when my body looked like that. I know what it feels like to be nearly starving to death. Many people with an eating disorder (myself included) WANT to look that frighteningly, sickeningly thin. It doesn't make a lot of sense, even to me.

BJ, knowing my history, asked me if I was okay.

So, I shared with them both.
There was a time that I looked like that. The reason I looked like that was different, but I remember how it felt for me. I remember feeling so hopeless that I just wanted to die. I remember knowing that if I didn't do something different, I was going to die, but I couldn't understand why I would want to live. I remember how it felt to feel unworthy to even exist, so I tried to make myself stop existing - or at least take up the smallest amount of space possible. I remember how much it hurt emotionally and physically.

I remember what it was like to be there.
I remember how it felt.
I remember, and I never want to be there again.

The realization itself was huge. Do you know how far I've come? That I don't feel a desire to go back, only a sadness that I was ever there? I don't feel guilty for living and existing. I don't feel like I am less strong because there is meat on my bones. There was a time when I would feel those things and so much more.

I don't like remembering what it was like, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded how far I have come.

Umm... This all sounds messed up, even to me... but it didn't sound messed up two hours ago

In the therapy world, there is a skill called "Opposite Action". Generally, it's a good skill to use in coping with depression, anxiety, and other intense emotions.

Basically, the idea is: Do the opposite of what you feel like doing.
If you feel angry, serve the person.
If you feel tired or depressed and want to stay home in bed, get up and go to a party.
If you feel sad and want to cry, watch a funny movie and get yourself laughing.
If you feel anxious and afraid, do what you are afraid to do.

It's a pretty good skill to have, and is effective if emotions have no justifiable reason to exist.
It is not very effective when there's a good reason to feel angry, sad, tired, sad, or afraid. I lived most of my life always doing the opposite of what I felt like doing - pushing myself to do things I didn't want to do, because that was the "right" thing to do. Combine that with ill-applied advice from therapists, and I'm a mess.

This morning I should be at orchestra rehearsal. I love rehearsal most of the time. I go because I love being there. I love playing my part. I love hearing all of the parts come together to create music. I love spending time with other people who are there just because they love the orchestra and being a part of it. And yet, the mere thought of rehearsal this morning made my head spin... and forcing myself to drive there anyway was causing a melt down.

But I HAD to go...If I didn't go, I was letting depression win. I was letting my stand partner down. I was letting the whole orchestra down. (And now as I write this, I think, "Ridiculous. I'm a second violin, and not a very good one at that... And my stand-partner is out of town for the next two weeks. My guess is few people will even notice that I wasn't there...") I usually love going to rehearsal, and because I don't want to go, there must be something wrong with me. I HAVE to go so that I can fix what is wrong with me... How can I get back to enjoying it if I don't make myself go?

The roads were icy and snow packed. It was foggy. I was having a melt down that included teary eyes and hyperventilation. Luckily, this time I could think clearly enough to know it was dumb to drive in these conditions.

So, I came home.
Once again, I realize that forcing myself to do things is very rarely the best answer for me. I was afraid if I didn't go to rehearsal, I would never want to go back. I was afraid if I didn't push myself, I was lazy and weak and "letting depression win".

In a moment, I will go out in the 5 degree weather to shovel shit out of the horses' shelter, give them hay, and try to give them water. Not because I have to, but because that sounds like a wonderful way to spend my Saturday morning. Later, I'll go to work because I want to get some new products up on the website and to work on what our display will look like for the next trade show. Again, not because I feel like I have to but because I am excited.

And tonight, I plan to finish decorating the Christmas tree and play games with BJ...
I've lived in a world that has told me my own inclinations, wants, desires, even needs are not okay. When will I learn that it is okay to just do what I want? Life holds a lot of joy if I just let myself be joyful...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday BJ!

Happy birthday. I love you.
I love your appreciation for the world around you. I love the excitement and the wonder I see in your eyes when you are studying someone else's sculpture or creating your own. You inspire me, and I love that about you.
These we did together. Can you tell which one is mine?

This is the sculpture he is working on currently.

This one remains unfinished. The message he wanted to portray with it has changed over the years, and he doesn't quite know what he wants to do with it next.

He understands the work it takes to create something like this, and admires every detail.
I love your compassion. For me. For your kids and grandkids. For strangers. For your family. For my family. For animals. I love that you try to understand and have empathy for everyone.

We took his grandkids hiking this summer. I love watching him them.

Classic BJ and Grandson J moment. BJ is teaching him multiplication and division. I was just super excited I had the camera out and could catch it.
I love your sense of humor. Mostly, I love that you find humor in the same things I do... and you think I'm funny and clever, even when most people think I'm weird.You laugh with me, and I love that about you.

I love your appreciation for learning. I love that you read and study and learn as much as you can about everything. I love that you let me teach you about how an orchestra works, and that you have been to rehearsals and seen how they work. I love the conversations we have about science, philosophy, religion, politics, money, business, and everything else. I learn a lot from you, and I love that about you.

I love your appreciation for nature. You seem joyful when you are fishing or riding horses. You can stop and look at every flower, plant, bug, or animal track with me. You get excited about all of the new places you can go and all of the new things you can see. Your joy makes me feel joyful, and I love that about you.

I love that you don't make fun of me for being me. You've never criticized the way I dress, the way I talk, the things I love, the way I dance, the struggles I've had. Even in my craziest moments, I feel loved by you.

I love you. I am glad I know you. I am glad you are a part of my life today.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

In what world is this woman NOT thin? But other than that, this is great.

I just saw this on Upworthy.
I hesitate to share this, because if you've never heard of "thigh gap", I don't want you to even know what that is. (I learned of it while in eating disorder treatment in 1997. My fellow patients talked about it a lot.)

I really like what she says about loving our bodies, and I agree. Why is she a "plus size" model? Why are all the models 16? (I know the answers to this... it turns out clothing designers don't want WOMEN, they just want hangers to show off the clothing. If you saw the women instead of their clothes, they wouldn't sell nearly as much. But that's a different story.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm trying to start blogging again. In the meantime, a photodump

I haven't been blogging. Part of that is that I don't need the blog like I once did. I spend my time with a lot of people, and I talk and share myself more than I once did. I also don't have to deal with all of the crazy effects of abuse, PTSD, ED, or even leaving the church. Everything is pretty calm generally speaking. I also have been very busy with BJ's family, my family, work, with some horses and fishing thrown in.

At the same time, I miss writing. I miss blogging and having a record of who I was in that moment.

So... I'm just dropping in to say, I plan on writing more, and sharing more here.
I'm planning on writing some of the stories from my past in a more complete form. I have the journal/blog entries from when I was going through it all, but I'd like to write it all down differently.

A few days ago, I did an interview for a study about Eating Disorders and Spirituality/Religion. She asked me to share the story of my eating disorder and specifically how it related to religion and spirituality. As I shared with her, I made connections I haven't made before. It also felt good to just tell a story from beginning to end (so to speak... Actually, my story hasn't ended yet, but... whatever.)

That's my goal. I'm writing about it, so that I have a better chance of actually doing it.

In the meantime: Here is a bunch of pictures I've taken since the last time I posted.

BJ enjoying the semi-nice weather on our last ride. (There was snow on the ground in some places, but the sun was out.)

My family came over for my mom's birthday.

BJ and I went to Vegas for a tradeshow (for work), but while we were there, we stopped to visit Rick's Restoration.

We also went to Count's Kustoms

Sometimes we get bored at tradeshows.

My brother performed in a benefit concert. They gave away four scholarships that evening, and he got one of them!

Three of BJ's grandkids came over to ride the horses. J has been riding since he was a baby. He's pretty comfortable up there.

I love this smile.

My cat. She was hunting mice, and we were in the way.

She wasn't so sure at first, but by the end, "Look Grandpa! No hands!" and she wanted to go around several more times after the boys were all done.

I had an orchestra concert. BJ's daughter took this of us afterwards.

BJ's mom has been in a Rehab center. BJ's brother and his family started the deck, and BJ and I were there to help finish it up.

The little dogs were not enjoying the cold.

They asked me to take their family photos for them. I'm not a photographer, but I sure had fun.

E (my bro-in-law) and Olive (the dog)
Sadie, why are you being so naughty?

BJ helped Sadie get in the pictures.

Olive's "Batdog" ears make me happy.

I REALLY want a dog. For now, I have been playing with my sister's three. (Though, they found a home for Bandit! So, now she is back to just two dogs.)

We went fishing in the dark. Someone told me that was a euphemism for sex... but I didn't know that. We really just went fishing (for Trout) in the dark.

Sunset while I was at work. (This is the view out my office window.)

We went to the rodeo with all of BJ's kids and a few of the grandkids. These three loved the barrel races.

My sister had a birthday. They made her dance.

Happy Halloween!

This girl makes me smile. (BJ's granddaughter.) She told me to get the camera, because she was in the perfect spot for a photo.

Carving pumpkins together.

Making stuff with clay. (BJ's grandsons.)

We went to cowboy poetry.

This guy lives across the street.

We helped BJ's sister and her husband move from Montana back to Utah. (Anyone who is friends with BJ on Facebook saw this picture, cropped a little.)

BJ's granddaughter's drawing. Do you know who it is?

Last Christmas BJ bought me a camera. He said that made me the official expedition photographer. I took a photography class and learned how to use it. Now sometimes I can get cool action shots like this one.