Untitled. D. Blake, 2017
It’s a grey day, I’m at Starbucks, eating a strawberry cheesecake scone and drinking iced tea, and I feel a little tired. I started my morning by taking a long walk, looking at flowers, and listening to The Tao of Fully Feeling by Pete Walker. Yesterday, I finished Walker’s Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. On a daily basis, I consume books, articles and videos on childhood and adult trauma, self-care, fibromyalgia, personality disorders, and how to keep it together when you’re broken and involved. It’s a healthy diet of I’m ready to change.
This year marks a decade since I received my diagnosis of fibromyalgia. However, it’s been a life marked by a host of diagnoses: depression, SAD, OCD, PCOS, IBS, Raynaud’s syndrome, overweight, underweight, high blood pressure, etc.; and I was a walking pharmacy–there always seemed to be some new and improved medication to fix whatever was broken inside me.
All the while, I was doing the arduous work of unpacking my childhood, being therapized and therapizing myself, while codependently trying to fix everyone else’s problems, whether they wanted me to or not. I was without clear boundaries in my personal life, struggling with a compulsion to solve sadness, my own and others.
Places to go. D. Blake, 2017.
Letting Go of Promises
You see, I made two promises a long time ago–not to myself, but to my family. I can’t recall my exact age, but I remember the moment with clarity. An incredible argument took place between one of my older siblings and my parents. Without going into the details, that moment represented the totality of my family’s dynamics: unbounded dysfunction.
Nothing was ever a discussion, always a war zone…and the children were used as landmines against each other and seen as acceptable collateral damage. I made a promise aloud to my mother on that day. I told her that I would 1) become a therapist and 2) fix my family.
I had forgotten about those promises for two decades. Unearthing them again in a therapy session, back in December 2014, shook my world. I had to face the fact that I had been unconsciously living a life based on these promises…
In 2006, I became an art therapist and mental health counselor. I spent years, prior to and thereafter, confronting my parents on their unacceptable behaviors towards my siblings and me. I tried to create dialogue. I tried to be a bridge. I tried…until I realized, in 2016, that I couldn’t do that anymore.
I can’t keep these promises that my younger self made. I can’t undo what was done to my siblings and me. I can’t fix my parents, nor do I wish to anymore.
Still, I was raised to cater to others. I was raised to take the blame for others. I was raised to disregard myself and defer to others. It’s no simple task living within and for myself.
Self-portrait, D. Blake, 2017
Peace of Mind
So, I’ve been reading, watching, confronting and comforting myself. I take daily walks, I remind myself that change is a moment by moment act of meeting yourself wherever you are. I can’t walk back my childhood nor the harrowing moments of my adulthood. However, I can walk toward the type of future I would like to have and the future self I would like to be.
In the past, fixating on the emotions of others and even myself, and trying to control the outcome of everything was what brought me a sense of fragile peace–as long as I knew what someone was going to do or what was going to happen next, then everything was okay.
Now, it’s the simple things that give me peace of mind: flowers, stones, water, changes in the weather, the sound of laughter, singing, and dancing–flowing with what is rather than what I would like to be.
Change seems to happen with the smallest and simplest of actions…at least, this is what trying to live within myself has been showing me lately. If you’re on a similar journey, then I hope it’s the same for you.
Until Next Time,