Angelina: Little Angel This dog’s name couldn’t be more fitting. If it wasn’t for her, I really don’t know if I could have stayed in recovery. She has been a source of joy and comfort, and at times, minor frustrations when she eats random things that she shouldn’t when we’re outside and then she thinks it’s a game of “keep away” and starts running in circles around me. Adopting her was one of the best things I did for myself and my recovery this year and I’d like to think that it is good for her too. Angie gets lots of attention, is rarely left alone, gets all natural and healthy dog food, plus sweet potato and peanut butter treats, and is the perfect cuddler. I had to give her a shout out because she has been holding me together.
Despite my struggles with my increasing BPD symptoms, I feel like I really am making progress in life and recovery. At least I now have the awareness of when I’m in a BPD “vortex” and that’s a big step. One thing that I want to talk about is that you don’t need to have a diagnosis in order to be struggling or hurting in your life. I don’t mean to “parade” around my diagnoses as if they are some prize that I got, but rather I think of them as ways to describe what I’m going through. I think a lot of people can relate to various symptoms of BPD, like a feeling of emptiness, the lack of a stable sense of identity, emotions that are painful/difficult to control, and sensitivity. You don’t have to meet a given amount of criteria in order to deserve or need healing. I wish that I knew this and believed this years ago because it might have saved me some heartache.
What I’m realizing now is that I have to create a life that is conducive to my general well-being, and I have to self-impose some structure in order to avoid falling into the cracks of depression. One of these new non-negotiables is yoga. Honestly, ever since I turned in my thesis, I haven’t been going to yoga much, or pretty much at all. It started with me feeling really self-conscious and then being so stressed about my thesis that I decided to put it off for a week, and then another. And then a friend died so I went to one class then put it off again, and again, and again and because I thought I was moving, cancelled my membership. Now that I know I’ll be here for the next year, I renewed my membership and I’m going to take yoga as seriously as I used to. I go to therapy twice a week and I used to go to yoga twice a week. Both of these are non-negotiables. Yoga is just as beneficial to my well-being (more so my mental health than physical, in my experience) as therapy is so it can no longer be something that I can let myself skip out on.
This summer, it is imperative that I find other non-negotiables. I’m concerned about my tendency to isolate, which usually stems from fear and self-consciousness. At times I have horrible social anxiety and will avoid situations that I would otherwise enjoy if I didn’t have the constant fear that I would do/say something stupid and be humiliated in front of others. I do think I need to branch out and put myself out of my comfort zone a little in order to meet other people and start to form a group of friends here. This is a more difficult and daunting task than I care to admit, but that’s where I am.
Despite the difficulties of the last few weeks and the changes in plans, I am now feeling like I’m beginning to create a life that resembles who I am, or at least who I want to be. When I move into my new apartment, I will have the chance to decorate it as I wish for the first time in my life. I will also be lucky enough to have a loft that I’m going to convert into a work space as I continue to start my business, which I will share with you all when the time comes, I promise!! I’m looking forward to being an entrepreneur and hopefully creating an income stream off of what I’m really passionate about. I want to love life and love what I do for a living and I’m sending up many prayers to whoever is listening that this dream of mine can become a reality.
Of course, good things take time and success doesn’t come easy. At times I wonder, “What difference can I make in this world? I’m only 23 and why would people listen to what I have to say?” The day I met Kris Carr back in April, I asked her this question and her response is something I won’t forget:
“It might not be that you are saying anything original, but it might be that the way you say things ignites something in others.”
Too often in my life I’ve let fear stand in my way and I am one of those people who is terrified of rejection. I think we all are to some extent, after all, no one likes to be rejected but it is without a doubt and learning and growing experience and I admire those who take risks. Sometimes though, I think I sell myself short and I minimize the times where I was afraid but took risks anyway. As someone with social anxiety, agoraphobia, and just a general discomfort not being somewhere where I have roots, I’ve done a lot of uprooting and put myself out of my comfort zone to study in places like Greece and France.
Oddly enough, it was France that intimated me more despite the fact that I speak French. I do make grammatical mistakes and my accent is wobbly when I’m nervous, but interestingly enough I was less nervous around the French than I was around my American colleagues. I speak French well enough to never have to use English to get around, but when it came to engaging in conversation with fellow classmates, my throat would close up because I was scared of being judged and not being considered “worthy” or “good enough” to be in that program. Now I know that those thoughts and feelings were unfounded and rooted in fear.
Fear has prevented me from doing a lot of things that I want to do in life and it’s a tough shell to break out of, especially when you have the experience of trying something you are scared of or putting yourself out there and then being shut down. However, sometimes the smallest steps can provide the biggest rewards and I’m noticing that the more I cheerlead myself for small things, the more empowered I feel to tackle bigger fears.
Being able to self-empower is something that needs to be cultivated. I know that for me personally, I lost my self-empowerment around the 7th grade. Prior to that I was a fearless child who felt most comfortable on stage and in front of a crowd. Acting in my drama club productions was a huge source of joy for me and when they stopped the club, I lost a little part of myself.
Maybe it’s not necessary for me to start acting again, but it is time to stretch my wings and accept the possibility that I might fall. Falling doesn’t necessarily mean failure; it just means that you tried something and it didn’t work out. Sometimes things in life don’t work out and if we can reframe our minds to extract the lessons we learn from any given experience, we will be better prepared to help ourselves move towards our goals in the future.
It’s an incredibly freeing and beautiful thing to look at my life and see possibilities. There’s still fear, but anyone who takes risks has to navigate their way past that. I definitely have a fair amount of trepidation about my future, and I am allowing it to be there. It keeps me grounded to some extent but at the same time, I push myself to take those leaps, to go past my comfort zone (which changes daily sometimes) and to ignite my inner spark. It’s been there all along. That “Alex spark” of wanting to help others, making jokes even if only the Boyfriend and my handful of close friends understand what the hell I’m talking about, blurting out random things because that’s what comes to mind and confusing the people around me, and that spark of just wanting to soak up as much knowledge as I can about this world and everything in it.
I can enrich my life and be who I want to be now. In my eating disorder, that wasn’t possible. In depression, that isn’t possible. In recovery, it’s a necessity. I used to think I needed to hit some point, some ”rock bottom” or wake up call in order to turn my life around. I’ve had several rock bottoms and wake up calls, and it takes time to forge a new path. It’s worth it though. Fear can be a great teacher and I don’t know of anything that feels better than conquering a fear. That moment when you can say to yourself, “Oh shit, I DID IT!!” I want more of those moments in my life.
How about you? What fears are holding you back? What do YOU want out of this life? What dreams are you afraid to manifest?