Today I met with the rabbi for our second of many talks. Today's talk began with me saying how yesterday was a particularly tough day. How my mother called once and I ignored her. She called again and I ignored her call. She texted. I ignored it. She called a third time and I finally answered. The rabbi asked me why I didn't answer and just tell her I didn't want to talk. I said that my negative self talk tells me that I don't matter. That if I killed myself sure, my mother would grieve and be sad. But also, sure she would get over it and get on with her life. The rabbi said to me, "Rachel, if your best friend committed suicide, would you forget them?" I answered that of course I wouldn't. That I would remember them for the rest of my life. The rabbi continued with, "Well, it is the same with your mother. She would never get over losing you and would never forget you. " We discussed how that disproved my negative self talk.
The rabbi went one step further. He said that by definition we are b'tzelem Elokim, created in the Divine's image. That and that fact alone make me, and everyone, worth it. He said to me, and I'm paraphrasing here because I didn't record the conversation although I wish I had, he said, "Rachel, you are created b'tzelem Elokim and that makes you, by that very definition, ENOUGH and WORTHY."
In all my years of therapy and seminary I have never actually thought with my heart about what it truly means to be created in the Divine's image. Today I stopped thinking with my brain and turned on my heart. I'm sure I mentioned in these blog posts about when I went on a weekend retreat with my bible study group and how we wrote about our perfect day. And how my therapist said, "Rachel, when did you become so vanilla" when listening to my perfect day. The rabbi rephrased that description of my perfect day (which if you are interested is waking up at 6am, going for a run, coming home and having a shower and a healthy breakfast, volunteering, having lunch, tutoring, coming home for dinner and then reading and going to sleep by 10pm) is one of stability and dependability. Through my "vanilla-ness" I am honoring what it means to be in G-d's image to me. Does that make sense?
When I work with my students I strive to instill in them a sense of self-advocacy and a permission to ask for what they need to be successful. While talking with the rabbi I discovered that I don't practice what I preach. I mean, I don't ask for what I need to be successful. I needed my therapist to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I must ask to only work a four hour shift because anything more than that makes me call out and miss work due to stress and anxiety. I needed to reread some of my posts here to get back to a place where I was healthier and doing what I needed to be the best me I could be. I needed to be reminded that in order to live the life G-d created me in His image to live, I need to make sure I get enough sleep to allow my body to repair itself. I need to make sure I eat a well balanced diet to fuel my body. I need to make sure I drink enough water to properly hydrate my cells. All of this I forgot in the hustle and bustle of my mood swings.
I guess the bottom line is this, it is easy to get distracted and bombarded by the negative self talk. The important thing to keep in mind is that we, each one of us, is created b'tzelem Elokim, in the Divine's image. Because of that fact we are enough. The end. Full stop.
Tomorrow, March 1st, is the first day I am going to live my life in G-d's image. I am going to treat myself with the same respect I treat anything that G-d created.
How many of you know me? Like truly know me? I know many of you have been friends with me for years, some for months, and I'm hoping there are some of you out there that don't know me personally but read my content anyway.
Well, if you know me you know I have a purse problem. Like a high-end quality, luxury purse problem. Most of my purses cost in the triple digits (shhhh....don't tell my mother). Now, I haven't purchased a new purse in over a year, probably longer but I honestly can't remember back any further than a year. And this is a good thing, because while I am a "change my purse with the seasons" type of girl, I honestly have enough purses, in good enough shape, to last me many, many, many seasons.
I'm telling this to you as a lead in to my spending problem. Part of the symptoms of my mental illness are uncontrolled spending. I spend when I'm manic, because during those times, budget? What budgets? Who the hell needs a budget?!?! And I spend when I depressed, because during those times, damn it, everything is so hard I DESERVE this expensive treasure. Now neither of those thought processes are correct, I do understand that, but I'm just letting you into my brain for a quick minute.
I guess my thought process is, "oh wow, I have some money in my account. Better go spend it!" And that does not take into account the many, many, many medical bills, and normal every month bills that I need to pay. This is not good my friends. Part of me is hoping that if I put this out there, in the name of keeping my mental health journey, and all that is included with that journey, an open book, I will be more aware of my flaws in thinking about money. Perhaps you might even question me when I say, "hey let's go out tonight!" Because we all know nights on the town need to be budgeted for and taken into account when budgeting.
I've taken Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University three times. I know all the baby steps. I know about gazelle intensity. I know about zero sum budgets. But for some reason I am unable to put them into effect. You know, I am thinking really hard right now about why that might be. I think because it makes me feel trapped. Trapped in the same way that going into work for a shift makes me feel trapped. I feel as though if I budget and let's say for example only use cash to pay for every thing except bills, well then I'm trapped to only having x amount for groceries and y amount for gas. Does that make sense? I mean I know that is the definition of a budget. I know this! But really it makes me hyperventilate. Does it make any of your hyperventilate also? Am I alone?
For some reason I haven't been forced to live on the street yet and panhandle on the corners. I mean, I know the reason, but regardless, I haven't had to do either of those things and for that I am FOREVER grateful. I am fortunate to have comprehensive health insurance. I am fortunate to have a trustworthy car to take me from here to there. And I am the utmost grateful for my friends who put up with my crazy, nope, no money today, can't go out lifestyle every few weeks.
I'd love, I mean REALLY love, to hear your tips and tricks for living within your budget. I really put it all on the line here by sharing this with you, but I figured, hey we've come this far, why not really expose myself. So please share, either in the comments or by sending me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with how you keep yourself on the straight and narrow when it comes to money.
Oh, and as a PS, I do strictly meal plan and only go to the grocery with a complete list and stick only to the list, but yet I still manage to spend upwards of $95.00 a week. How do you manage your grocery shopping?
For the sake of transparency, I have begun a new therapy. Today was my second session with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. It is the hope of my doctors (and my family) that working with exposure therapy will help with my obsessive thoughts regarding throwing up, how to prevent it from happening, and how to anticipate it happening (which I don't like to think about because then it really WILL happen).
Last week was simply getting to know each other. Those awkward questions that you are always asked at the start of a new patient/doctor relationship. Today we started getting into the nitty gritty. For homework over the past week I was supposed to come up with a list of things I did to prevent myself from throwing up. The actions or behaviors I did to keep me "safe". I did that and was partially surprised by how many actions there were, but on the other hand surprised there weren't more. Does that make sense? Today we went over each one and the therapist had me rate them on an anxiety scale, 1 being no anxiety, 10 being the worst anxiety ever.
What we settled on was putting the water pitcher back in a different spot in the refridge every time I put it away. Currently I only put it in one specific spot. Her point is that nothing terrible will happen if I move the location of the water pitcher. Water pitchers do not keep us from throwing up. In my rational brain I'm thinking, "Well duh, of course water pitchers don't keep us from throwing up!" But in my emotional brain I am thinking, "Holy shit!!!! You want me to do what woman?!?! And for a whole week?!?!?"
So this is my new reality. Facing a fear I've had for as long as I can remember. Trying to overcome an irrational thought pattern that is "normal" for me. I can't imagine NOT thinking about throwing up every 30 minutes, at the very least. I can't imagine breathing normally when walking by a public garbage can. I can't imagine not reaching diagonally to avoid going over the toilet to reach my make up (perhaps this is why I very rarely wear make up). There are so many actions coming to light now that I do to keep me safe from throwing up. And I guess what my therapist will help me to learn is that they are all magical thinking. None of them will keep me safe from throwing up.
If you are interested in learning more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Exposure Therapy check out this link.
Lord, listen to my prayer;
hear me in my hour of need.
I am overwhelmed by my troubles
and terrified by my thoughts.
Guide my feet on your path;
don't let me stop or falter.
Teach me how powerful your love is
and how insubstantial my fears.
Like the pupil of the eye protect me;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Cover me with your mercy;
rock me to sleep in the dark.
And let me, when I awaken,
see nothing but the light of your face.
This interpretation of Psalm 17 by Stephen Mitchell, written in A Book of Psalms, was given to me by a member of the clergy. He and I have worked at the same synagogue and know each other in a "Hi, how are you?" sort of way but never really connected, until this week. A mutual friend reached out to him to say that I was going through a particularly difficult patch and he then reached out to me, just to let me know "I was not alone." He didn't have to, I am not even a member at his shul. But he did and even more so, offered to meet and talk with me. And I took him up on it.
The beginning of our meeting was sort of all over the place, with me trying, not very poetically, to fill him in on what had been going on to lead our mutual friend to reach out to him on my behalf. We finally got to the nitty gritty of the issue, faith. Because, as he pointed out, what really does it mean to pray? Are we all not unlike Hannah, praying to G-d with little or no words? Is G-d not always listening? Will He not always "[g]uide my feet on your path; don't let me stop or falter"?
For, and this came out in our conversation, as sure as I am that there is a G-d above, I am also sure that He is getting tired of my shenanigans and misbehaving. But, as the rabbi pointed out, if G-d will always "hear me in my hour of need" what do I have to fear? Yes, we agreed, turning it all over to G-d is scary. Part of my anxiety is letting go of the thing I am most fearful of. My thinking is that if I am constantly thinking about it it can definitely not overwhelm me. Even though, in the course of always thinking about it, it already is overwhelming me. How enlightening would it be to be able to say, with full confidence, "Here you go G-d, please take this burden from my body and hold on to it for me. Truly love me unconditionally and help me with this."
So for now I am working on being able to let go of the reigns some. Maybe just for a minute at a time, but letting go of them at any rate. Being able to fully trust that G-d is a G-d of love and of mercy. He will ALWAYS love me and ALWAYS care for me. And when I wake up, He will show me "nothing but the light of [His] face."
I feel as though this post should have come around Halloween, but alas, it is now and I am dealing with it now, around Valentine's Day. Oh well, it is what it is, right?
Panic, fear, anxiety, obsession, worry, despair.....these are all words that are consuming me recently. I have an irrational fear of throwing up. I used to not be able to say the word. I used to think, and still do to some extent, that by talking about it I would make it so. Magical thinking is what my therapists call it. I think about throwing up AT THE VERY LEAST every 30 minutes. No joke. No exaggerations. Every 30 minutes, if not more. And once the thought is in my head my head runs rampant with it. I can't ignore it. I can't let it go. I zoom in on that one thought and I'm off!
I visited a psycho-pharmacologist over the summer who said there are professionals out there who specialize in resetting your obsessive thoughts. Really? I find that hard to believe that that could happen. I once had a therapist who said to me, "Rachel, if I were a true behavioralist I would lock you in this room with a bottle of Ipecac and a bucket." I freaked out! He was joking, but I didn't see it as funny. He was a good therapist, and I have nothing bad to say about him. He was just emphasizing how in my head my fear was.
My panic is much greater in the winter months, when illness runs a little more rampant. However, if it is the spring or summer and I hear that the stomach flu is going around my panic rears its ugly head ten fold.
I guess the point of my post today is to get some of the obsessive thoughts out of my head and into words. Because you know sometimes when thoughts are in your head they are HUGE and take up all the space. My thought was maybe by putting them into words, composed of letters, formulating thoughts, I could shrink those thoughts a bit. I'm not sure if I've done any shrinking, but I hope that if you either a) know of a professional who works with resetting one's thoughts you can let me know about them or b) suffer from a similar paralyzing fear you will know you have a partner in arms.
Why I'm Blogging
Just your average 40 something trying to find the way in which she can make sense of her life. I hope you'll join me for this journey.