Nothing Redeemable Until a Haircut

Yesterday was one of those days. Last night was one of those nights. I’m talking about those kinds of moments where you feel like you will never get ahead and nothing will ever go right again.

I’ve been having a long standing problem with food making me sick on some level for years. A year ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I went gluten free, but after a month of still feeling horrible, I went on a strict anti inflammatory diet. It’s been 11 months of that, and I still get bouts of nausea ranging from mild to debilitating without any pattern I can figure out.

Yesterday, I had something fairly spicy. I thought I would be fine and had plans to do some shopping, an errand, and call a friend. Instead, the nausea and headache hit me hard. I was in bed at 2 pm and didn’t get up until 10 am this morning. The dogs didn’t go outside and definitely didn’t get dinner. I could hardly move as I just HURT.

Sometimes when I feel intense symptoms, I feel like I must be crazy and that I’m somehow making this up , and I start to feel guilty??!! Guilty for who, I’m not sure as I’m the one who is suffering, and I’m definitely not putting anyone out except for myself in those moments.

And of course, the trauma always comes back. It’s those all too familiar feelings of guilt about being sick as my being sick would put my mom out and it made her mad. My existence already ruined her life on a good day, so you could imagine how much she despised me if I actually needed something.

Nonetheless, I was miserable yesterday. I also get extremely disillusioned with my health as I am so committed to health. I’m a doctors dream, and have been told it too by a couple over the past year. I don’t know anyone living a healthier life than I am.

This morning I decided I wasn’t going to sit in misery of whatever in my life didn’t feel fair. I was going to focus on what I do well and just have a simple day of self care and leave my over analyzing and constantly thinking brain at home.

I went and got all my hair cut off. I’ve wanted to do it for awhile. Long, curly hair is very hard to manage when you’re often too sick to care for it. The tangles just add stress to my life. Going to my hairdresser was exactly what I needed. She said what I needed to hear, “you are so inspirational. You affect so many people and probably more than you will ever know. You are also lucky that you’re so beautiful. You are naturally beautiful, but you have inner beauty too that few could ever have”. People say pretty incredible things to me a lot, but it’s usually the same people and ones that know what I’ve been through. She only cut my hair once, and she’s sincere. It might have been the first compliment I ever heard, received, truly believed, and incorporated into my self concept.

So yesterday, I was stuck in feeling like there was nothing redeemable about my life or existence or health, so I woke up this morning to find it. I certainly did with a hairdresser and a whole lot of personal tenacity to accept things are not always great, but if you look for beauty amongst the rubble of your life, you can see it and others may too.

I hope you know there’s always something redeemable even in the worst of times.

Love

Lizzie

Not having Your Mothers Love Does Not Make You Unlovable!!!! (Read That several times)

(This was my Mother’s Day cars from my son this year. I guess his list of top needs from me as his mom)

I wasn’t going to post today. I’m actually fairly tired and the dishes are dirty, the floor needs mopping, I should be packing for an overnight out of town with my son…

I’m compelled today due to several people having a very hard time with mother relationships lately, and I’m hoping they will read this today as I can’t individually say it to all.

The biggest, hardest, and most painful part of my trauma recovery has been the relationship with my mom. If you haven’t read much of my blog, I’ll simply tell you that my mom literally told me I was evil several times a day, did weird things to prove how evil I was, and no matter what amazing things I was doing, she told me I would fail every time. She told me “no one will ever love a person like you”. It’s gets much uglier and disgusting from there, but that’s a basic picture, and I’m not interested in traumatizing anyone with my trauma. Besides, enough people have heard my story and life is focused on gratitude for me now, not making sense of a horrible past (I should note that I’ve had some of the best of the best trauma therapy, including dedicated trauma programs, residential treatment for PTSD, and a whole lot of dedicated mental health professionals for 20 years).

When I was in my early 20s, I had an incredible therapist, SL. We worked a lot on my trauma. I would vehemently deny and scream at her that there was no way anyone could love me if my own mother didn’t. She would say it wasn’t true and stay the course, and I was absolutely convinced that no one could love me if my own mother couldn’t.

My cure was to find a mother. I found a couple, but they ended in disappointment in huge ways that only validated my unworthiness of love. I probably had placed huge expectations on them and their failure wasn’t theirs, but in my own cognitive distortion that you either had a horrific one or a perfect one. Back then, I didn’t talk to anyone about their relationship with their mom. That was too painful for me. In my own exploration in more recent years, I found there is no perfect mom. Moms are held to perfection, but anyone who has ever been to therapy, for even relatively benign reasons, has complained about their mom. My friends with incredible moms even complain!!

So back to my mom journey. My mom died in 2006. For most people, the death of your mom is incredibly hard to deal with. My world became a little lighter that day. If you think it’s terrible for me to say, maybe this isn’t the post for you, but this is for people who can’t make sense of a world when your mom was/is terrible.

I didn’t grieve the actual person my mom was. I had grief that ever having a mom died with her.

In the past few years, I realized that I don’t have someone to call “mom”, what I do have are constant instances of getting from a variety of people what I wanted from a mom.

The friend who questioned my safety and sanity when I told her I booked a trip to Thailand and was leaving in 48 hours gave me the scolding of my life. That was some serious momming. Her serious concern was pure mom love. Even when she called me the other day and gave me a lecture about doing things physically that didn’t match my ability, she kept apologizing for being harsh, but I was smiling on the other end for her mom type concern.

I had serious health problems since childhood that my mom ignored as I was being “dramatic”. Every time I see a doctor who validates my health problems, even if not readily apparent, makes me feel mommed. My primary care is amazingly strong, brilliant, and validating, and even if she’s younger than me, I feel cared for like my mom should have cared about my health long ago.

When people call to check on me or bring me healthy food or stop by or send random gifts and cards in the mail—momming!

I don’t call any of these people mom, nor would I want to, but I once did a concrete inventory of what I would want from my mom. The short list was concern and validation.

I’m trying to say that having a bad relationship with your mom doesn’t make you a terrible person as I thought before. I think it makes you even better. I managed to figure out how to live as well as possible and see the glass as half full and love and be loved without any kind of example from her. Says I’m pretty strong in my opinion, and you are too.

Where do you get glimpses of mothering in your life?

Love

Lizzie

Curling up in Little Balls to Embrace, not Run

When I first started working on my trauma over 20 years ago, I would get horrible flashbacks and curl into tiny balls. My therapist always remarked back then that I could make myself impossibly tiny.

It’s quite strange that I turn into little balls these days as a way to grow stronger physically. I am now addicted to inyegar yoga, which is in simplicity, a yoga that uses props and adaptation so even people with chronic pain and mobility issues can become accomplished yogis.

I’ve dabbled in yoga at various gyms over the years. It seemed more torturous than anything, so I never stuck to it for long and also didn’t understand that listening to my body was key. It made me feel calm, but I never understood what was the true attraction.

As my physical abilities diminished, I started to study more of the foundations of yoga, which for me were about meditation and calming the body. From there, I pushed into some basic daily stretching to help manage my neuropathy and musculoskeletal pain.

A couple weeks ago, I ended up in an inyegar class as I was ready to venture out and was feeling stronger. I instantly fell in love. No one minded that I showed up with a mobility device or got a look of concern that I would hurt myself. I got a warm welcome, some basic health history questions, and the feeling of belonging.

So today I was curled up in a little ball that felt so good on my body. Instead of cowering from fear, I was reflecting on how strong I am. I love yoga for me as it perfectly represents the strength I still have physically that I use to carry myself through other aspects of my life.

I don’t say you have to try yoga, but the past couple weeks as I have truly put together the mind, body, and spirit aspects of it. I appreciate in a whole new way what it’s about. It’s not a physical exercise. It’s a total spirit renewal and push to be better.

What is something you can do to gently push yourself? Change comes from getting out of your comfort zone. Strangely, this tiny ball was all about comfort!

Love

Lizzie

Another Mother’s Day is all Wrapped Up

So many Mother’s Day have meant huge sorrow for me. I was always mad at myself for having a mom who hated me and taught me to hate myself even more.

When you stay lost in hating yourself, you forget to see what is around you that is positive. I’ve been working hard at smashing the expectations of being a failure, stupid, an attention seeker, worthless, unlovable…behind. It’s not just her I learned those things from, it’s other family members too.

I’ve been pretty sick for over 3 years physically. I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis in 2016. This past year I was diagnosed with chronic Epstein Barr virus, celiac disease, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, had surgery on my back as my degenerative disc disease has been so bad. Tomorrow I go to the doctor to address whatever the masses are throughout my lungs and lymph nodes.

Today was Mother’s Day. I have a son who is 12. The worst part about being physically ill is rarely seeing him and not being able to do anything with him. I promised him a picnic and outside time for the day. Unlike my own mom, I was going to put his needs first.

Waking up this morning, I was tired, my throat hurt, and I was still in pain from yoga 3 days ago. I stayed in bed until noon and decided today was one of those days I had to.

My son and I got to our picnic spot, enjoyed lunch by a creek with our dogs, and then my little guy wanted to move.

I took the beliefs put on me by my mom about being a failure and weak and unlovable and started to move. My son was so happy that he took the video here. You can hear him cheering me on. I didn’t fail today. I was strong and loved. I WAS the mom I always wanted.

Are you feeling bad things about yourself? Chances are someone planted those ideas in your head. Take it from a failure that no one would ever love!

Love

Lizzie

Don’t Hate Me for Saying Yoga (not actually about yoga!)

No worries in that this post isn’t an endorsement of yoga, but about pushing yourself to adapt.

I spent nearly half of March and April in the hospital. My list of physical health diagnoses is dizzying and has felt entirely hopeless. The last time I left the hospital, I left knowing I will be using mobility aids and some even more renewed hopelessness!

Hopeless is not who I am!

I recognize there isn’t a miracle cure, which had me stopped. There’s no cure for PTSD either, but I’m managing that pretty well these days.

With this knowledge, I decided the best way to jump back into life was exercise. I signed up at my local community center for 3 months of lap swimming. After 4 days, I ended up with hives all over my face, a swollen tongue, and tingling lips. Bummer, it was a good run.

I’m back into the “why me” mindset. Another light bulb went off, and armed with my new epipen, I went to a dance class that was designed to be for pure fun! The able bodied dance community shot me some pretty nasty stares as I was having fun, but I left feeling embarrassed and then foolish (although I picked up the choreography even with forearm crutches better than most)!

I’m back in my house again feeling that sinking feeling of why do I even bother trying.

I ended up coming across an inyegar yoga class locally. This yoga is designed to be all about alignment and useful for chronic pain. Even though I was feeling defeated, I went anyway. I felt great! The teacher had me doing things with my body I couldn’t have done when I was a super yogi with a perfectly functioning body. I signed up for a series.

The key was adaptation. I won’t be cured of any of my physical health problems. It’s not the nature of what I have. What I do have is the validation of several diagnoses with a couple incredible doctors who seem to fight for me in moments when I give up, and the hope that I will live a decent life based on adapting.

If I focus on what I can’t do, I miss out on the opportunity to experience what I can do.

I’m still grieving a lot and living in a world of people (friends and family) who have kind of forgotten I’ve existed and don’t make an attempt to understand is hard, but I am adapting to that too. With careful monitoring of my energy input and output, I’m going to get going in ways that are different.

Now to tackle a mountain of medical bills that I refuse to adapt to!!

Love

Lizzie

Friendship is Texting. Friendship is Facebook.

As someone who is 43, the new reality of friendship has been extremely hard for me to accept. I thrive on actual phone conversation and meeting in person. This isn’t reality for most people.

I was spewing an agenda of connection and being together. I was getting angry that no one was offering to come see me or help me as my life is becoming laughable at how difficult it is with my multiple rare diagnoses that keep stacking up. I couldn’t understand how friends didn’t want to be social when being social can feel so good–to me.

It seems like everyone I know is suffering from social anxiety somewhere on the spectrum. Just because I want to see people in person doesn’t mean anyone else wants to. I have my theory on why such a rise on social anxiety, but I don’t have anything to back them, so I’ll leave that until I get some research off google, haha!

I get a ton of support with people texting me and on Facebook. Friends say the most incredible things to me. They say things through these formats that are amazing. I wasn’t giving merit to it. I wanted to see people…

Friendship has changed. Whether we are actually too busy to connect in person or not, we all perceive to be. Friends taking the time to send me well thought texts or incredible comments on Facebook is friendship today. I might not like it, but I have to appreciate it.

I will have to love that an incredible amount of people are very loving and supportive via electronic formats. I have to acknowledge that friendship means something different today than it did when I was learning about what it meant to be a friend.

In those moments i get to see people in person, I have to love and appreciate it for the gift it is. I understand that friendship has changed. I hope others will also honor, occasionally, that an in person contact is what I need too.

Virtual hugs will never feel as good as a real one. I will argue that without scientific research a million times over.

To my texting friends and friends who show support me through Facebook, keep it up! I love you and take it as it is.

To people who read and support my blog, you are also a gift.

Love

Lizzie

It’s ok Not to be ok

The theme of, it being ok not to be ok, keeps showing up in my life these past few days. I realize this and know huge tears of sadness and despair are often followed by moments of calm or new appreciation for something once missed.

I have had the absolute honor of meeting some extremely strong women lately. They are absolutely solid, yet huge difficulties are arising in their lives. The ones that have given me the honor of honesty will look at me and say, “Lizzie, who do I go to when I need to express that I’m about to fall apart?” I always reply, “you come to me”.

It’s not like I’m so strong that I can lift up people constantly. It gives me space to not feel like I’m whining when I fall from a broken, loaner wheelchair and can’t move for days and am engaging in “why me???” Other people crying makes gives me validation that I’m not crazy.

The worst thing you can ever tell someone who is looked to as strong is, “you’re strong”. I want to know someone can hold space for me if I need to sob about the unfairness of situations while celebrating that I always can get back to gratitude and knowing it will be ok and will probably fall back to despair again. I and these couple other women who have touched me these past couple days just need to feel.

I know that things can feel especially intense when you have serious trauma. “Holding space” as I’ve heard it called is so important for each other. It’s not depression. It’s normal human emotion.

I love connection and why I chose to stop looking at Facebook today to try to look for something more real. Remember that I’m not depressed. I’m just having a hard time. (Which happens to be totally normal given the circumstances!!)