Monday, January 01, 2018

Word Of The Year

I haven't put up my Word Of The Year for the past two years in a row. For different reasons, at the time of conceptualizing them they were deeply personal and I wasn't ready to share.

It's a long 'un. {deep breath}

In 2015 I was struggling with a lot of medical issues, personal issues, fears etc so I wanted 2016 to be about letting it go. The word I came up with was Release and it turned out to be quite apt.
I released my fears about schooling and realised my ambition to pass the Teacher's Aide certificate. I released the ovary and cyst from my body and didn't realise just how much of a release that was, and how deeply it had affected me and for how long, until approximately eighteen months after the surgery. I released Alaskaboy from the horror show his job had become and insisted that he go train as a baker. Nan died. I let go of the dream of owning our own house. All of these things and many more lead me over the course of 2016 to my word for 2017. Especially when I released my wrongly held beliefs that Alaskaboy was the biggest part of our marital issues and my MS would always stand in the way of who I wanted to become. And by the end of 2016? Wow, there was a LOT of fear. So much fear. Still is fear in regards to world events but the word for 2017 has helped with that too.

My word for 2017 was Acceptance. Apt considering all year I underwent Acceptance and Commitment Therapy sessions with my awesome Health Psychologist. Twenty eight sessions I had all up in just over twelve months. The journey was so amazing and I learned so much that I could never have pictured who I am today. (I've covered a bit about my physcial exercise parts of this, but wait there's more!) My psychologist and I had our last session the other week, she's going on to do her Masters for the next two years, and she's given me the name of another therapist in case I want to work some more next year on my Schemas etc. But for now, completely with her encouragement and blessings, I'm taking a break from therapy to let what I've learned settle in some more and enjoy the life I currently have. Which again leads me to my word for this year.

My word for 2018 is Present. It really clicked for me after the last session, when I turned on the car radio on the way home and within thirty seconds Billy Ocean was singing "Get outta my mind, Get into my life!" And it was precisely the stuff we'd been talking about in that last session in particular. Continue what I've been doing with acceptance and commitment..focusing more on not letting the voices talk about what was or what could be, but focusing on what is. I've let go of several ropes, now I need to live and learn to balance in the present, now those things have less/no pull on me.

Some of the biggest things I've let go of are:
a) The Just World Theory. Fascinating thing that a lot of us are raised to believe.
b) A false belief that acceptance means being zen about something. Again, a lot of people practice acceptance wrongly in that they think that have to be happy about something in order to truly accept it. Or even use it as another form of control.
c) The MeToo movement brought up a lot of stuff for me about harrassment, assault, misogyny, the male gaze, and a whole host of other things connected with them. I'd been using my obesity as a form of protection and as a way to take my rightful space in the world (among other things). But when it came up in discussion how I was still giving my control away and being controlled by my fears to be this weight...woah nelly! Click, click, clicketty click went lots of little things on the inside. Then we moved on to ways I could get involved, take my own power back etc. One of which is I've agreed to let another Mum at school (who's been asking me ever since Term Two of Grade Prep) nominate me for School Council. The president of the council even let me know she was happy about the nomination, "We need more proactive, sensible, smart people on the council!"
d) Shit or Get Off The Pot is another form of Let Go Of The Rope. I can't control anyone else. I can't magically make my MS, Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, or Our Financial situation go away. I can't make anyone's behavior change. I can model behaviours, it's up to them if they pick up what I'm putting down or not. I CAN CONTROL how I behave/respind a lot of the time. This doesn't mean I'm always happy and zen. Again it means I can choose to go with the feelings, learn to live with them and deal appropriately with them, or I can continue to eat them away. Some emotional eating is okay..but it's not the only tool I have in the bag now. "Negative" emotions are perfectly healthy. They're a warning sign that needs aren't being met, boundaries aren't being respected.

Acceptance is understanding that the weather is friggen hot or that someone is behaving contrary to what I'd prefer. There's nothing I can do to change the weather/behaviour. Being fused means I am so caught up on the fact that it's hot/infuriating that all I can see is the heat/rage and how awful it makes me feel and how bad bad bad it is and how it's not fair and it/they should change to suit my needs etc etc. Defusing is when I can take even a small step back and say hey, it is what it is, I may not fucking like it, but it is what it is. I can't change that. Then comes, What CAN I do/think/say that is helpful, rather than unhelpful. Sometimes nothing is all I can do. Acknowledge that this is making me feel x y z and that's that. Can I install cooling system? Can I leave the room? Can I say hey you're making me uncomfortable. Each situation is different but acceptance is understanding what is real, feeling what you need to feel about that..and not judging yourself for what you think/feel/say. There's been lots of Modelling of emotions this year, lemme tell you. One of the hardest things to admit to Kiddlywink and Alaskaboy was that sometimes my emotions get too big and I don't know what to do with them..and yes, when I'm not eating them away, sometimes I have tantrums too, because I have to let those emotions out and don't have any other way to do so.

I love the last phrase my psychologist taught me, Chunk and Check. It was something I didn't realise I unconsciously did for others..but didn't do with myself. Bascially, it's a way of learning, or processing, that allows for information to be broken down into smaller less complex bits and then you check back in later to see if anything has been retained. It struck me that I need to do it for myself when Kiddlywink asked me the other day, "Mummy, you were really upset the other day, you and Daddy were arguing. Did you work it out?" She learned from me, when she or AB have been upset over the years, that it's not always easy to digest stuff in the moment, especially a heated moment, and that sometimes you need someone to check in with you later to help with that. And Alaskaboy also modelled it back to me that very same day because he had thought about it at work and checked in with me again when he got home about what he'd figured out and it was exciting for us both to realise we were in fact Chunking and Checking. And boy was it helpful. Big break through for his Holiday Season Blues.

My test of Acceptance and Present came with his revelation. I didn't rush off and try and play therapist like I would have done in the past. We stayed in the present and discussed how it was informing current behaviour. And after that we agreed we'd talk more about it in the future..when he's ready. But also that if he hasn't brought up by a certain time, that it's then okay for me to check in again. So much more respect on both our behalves. More work to be done, but so much better than it's been. So much so, that for the first Christmas Day since we've been married we didn't have one argument. Not on the day itself, at all. Not even one of those awful nit picky ones about something stupid. Not even biting tongues to avoid one. There was no need for one.

So, yeah, I'm actually looking forward to 2018, ups and downs, and I'm hoping that being Present will lead to even better understanding all round.