Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Standing Alone, Being Emotional, And Being Okay

I'm never sure how I feel about writing personal posts.  Not personal as in, "this is about me and/or my family and not a craft tutorial," but personal in the sense that it's the kind of thing I can handle writing down, but probably not something I would ever say out loud.  Does that make sense?

Maybe if we've never met you didn't know I'm like that.  That I prefer to write things down rather than say them out loud.

Nobody really likes to be a wimp, right?  So I prefer to write things down.  And having a blog has somehow gotten me used to writing things down where others can read them.  Even though I sometimes write things for others to read that I wouldn't say out loud.  Are you with me?  Are you like that too?  Maybe you are.

Anyway, that is my long and delayed way of saying that I've been thinking about a lot of personal stuff lately.  I'd call it "heavy" stuff, but that makes my mom and sisters think that I'm depressed and I'm definitely not.  In fact, I'm very happy with my life.  And I'm not just saying that for the sake of saying that.  (Really.)  It's funny how it's hard to write about serious stuff and convince people that you're genuinely happy at the same time.

Anyway, this is what I really got on to write about:

I got on to write about standing alone, being emotional, and being okay all at the same time.

Do you believe that that's possible?  Because I do.  But it's hard to say that out loud because, if and when you do, people get the wrong idea.  If you say you feel like you've been standing alone they start apologizing for not being there for you.  Which isn't what you meant at all.  And if you say that you've been emotional people think that means that you've been crying.  Which you haven't been.  And--ironically--the moment you start trying to convince people that you're fine, they start to worry.  But this is how I've been feeling lately.

Standing alone
A lot of you have been interested in how our "whole foods, plant-based diet" (i.e. eating vegan) has been going lately.  You ask about what we eat and how we like it.  And I am here to say that I like it a lot.  Except for one thing.

I am a social person.  I like to call and chat with people.  I prefer to run errands and go grocery shopping with friends.  And I love getting together with our friends.  But, as it turns out, eating is a very social thing.  And in my case lately, eating can be a very socially awkward thing.

I want to eat things within the parameters that I've set for myself.  But I also don't want to offend people who offer me things that lie outside those parameters.  So I usually end up eating a little bit of what I've been offered anyway, but I have mixed feelings about it.  Should I tell them I've changed my eating habits?  Will that make them feel better or worse about my choice to eat/not eat what they've offered to share with me?  It's a question I don't know the answer to.

A friend of mine who has been eating vegetarian for the past several years recently wrote about this on her blog and it so hit home for me.  I've been thinking a lot lately about what she wrote and trying to figure out what I'm going to choose to do about these socially awkward situations that come up.  Because it's the foods I want to give up, not the people.

Still on the topic of standing alone (but in a different way), I've been thinking more about only having one child.  I wrote about this the other day and I've been surprised by not only how many of you seem to have actually made it through the whole post, but who really connected with what I said and appreciated it. It's actually because of all those meaningful comments that I decided to come back and write this post.  Maybe there are others of you out there standing alone.  Maybe we're a little bit alike.

Tonight I went to a fun little recipe group with a few of the women from my church.  It was a double dose of "standing alone" because, first of all, there was food and, second of all, we got to talking about pregnancies and labor.

The food I totally wimped out on.  I didn't say anything about my diet changes and just had three chocolate chip cookies.  They were good and I wasn't up for an entire discussion about a new diet that I don't know enough about yet to answer peoples' questions.

Pregnancy and labor?  It wasn't awkward because I miscarried.  It was awkward because everyone else had "normal" deliveries and I had a C-section.  And I hate to put it this way, but if you haven't had a C-section then you probably don't know what I mean.  If you have, you probably know exactly what I mean.

It comes your turn to talk about how things were for you and... part of you wants to talk about it so you can share your own experience, but part of you wants to just pass and let someone else take over the conversation.  And deep down part of you wants to say, "Listen, it wasn't like I chose to have my body cut open.  It was one of the worst experiences of my life and it makes me terrified to be pregnant and go through that again."  But of course you don't want to say something like that out loud.  So you say what you say.  And maybe after someone else starts talking again you find that you're shaking a little.  I've been told that I have post traumatic stress disorder about something else that happened (an almost deadly car accident).  Maybe I have it about labor too.

So I take a deep breath, start listening to the conversation again, and soon find myself laughing about what the other ladies* are saying.  Because it really is funny.

Case in point: standing alone, being emotional, and being okay.

*I just want to say (because I know some of these ladies will read this), I enjoyed our conversation tonight. None of you were mean or rude or passed judgement.  Or at least I didn't feel that.

Being Emotional
I don't like that "being emotional" is synonymous with "being upset."  We feel a lot of emotions and only half aren't happy.  Right?  So let's not worry about people just because they say they're being emotional.

Anyway, lately I've been emotional.  More about projects that I've been working on than anything else.  (Well, okay, and about potty training.  Potty training is full of emotional highs and lows and nothing in between.  Sigh...)

I have a big project I'm working on.  Some parts are easy and go exactly like I envision and that is so rewarding.  Other parts are hard and complicated and--quite frankly--end up being a waste of time and energy.  And that is frustrating and emotionally draining.  And since this is a big project I find myself in a constant flux between the rewarding highs and the frustrating lows and all the quiet moments of pinning and sewing and jotting down notes that come in between.

It's funny how successes make us want to keep on doing more things to make us feel successful, but failures don't quite have the same effect.  When we fail it takes time and energy to get past it and keep on going.  It's hard, but it's something I'm (slowly) getting better at.

"Okay, that didn't work out.  What'll I work on next?"

Sometimes there's a lot of time between those two sentences.  Sometimes it's five or ten minutes.  Sometimes it's five or ten hours.  Sometimes it's five or ten days.  And it seems like, the longer it takes to get past it and move on and try again, the harder it is to maintain whatever confidence is left over from some previous success.

It's a process that involves a lot of emotion.  And it's usually something I talk myself through.  But I'm getting better at it.

Case in point: standing alone, being emotional, and being okay.

Being Okay
Will I sound too bipolar if I tell you that I love my life right now?  Because I do.

Despite the fact that I'm not pregnant like I had (several months ago) planned to be, I'm working on a long, hard project, and social events with food are perpetually awkward, I feel so happy and satisfied with my life.

I love that we hang our laundry to dry.  I love the way preschool is going with Olivia.  I love going on walks with my friends.  I love that one of my favorite friends just dropped down to part time so now we can hang out even more.  I love that I'm eating so much fresh, wholesome food.  I love that I am finally getting good at making fresh salsa.  I love that I make a mean Black Bean Soup.  I love where we live.  I love my husband and I love that he's training for a profession that I think he's really going to love.  And, of course, I love my sweet, funny, totally-unpredictable-when-she'll-go-potty-in-the-toilet daughter.

It makes me a little choked up just writing that list.

It's a list I've been thinking about a lot lately.  Not like, "Oh things are terrible and I need to think of happy things to make myself feel better," but more like, "Life is SO good.  This is why."

I've been making a lot of changes for the better in my life lately.  Some are inward changes.  Some are outward changes.  But all are for the better.  And all of these changes are helping me become a better person.  And I love that.

Case in point: standing alone, being emotional, and being okay.

So what do you think?
Is it possible?


Janelle said...

I believe you expressed yourself beautifully. And, I believe that all three simultaneously are possible. If we are honest with ourselves, we are all a study in ironies and conundrums. Very few of us fit neatly in a box. That's what makes people so interesting & the lives that other people live fascinating. As always, blessed by your self examination & willingness to put it out for others.

Kathy Haynie said...

Sweet wise one...I know exactly what you mean. Except for the part about C-sections. I want to come back and reread this post every week.

Unknown said...

Absolutely it is possible! There are lots of things in life that we discover and don't seem to make sense when you put them in words, but they are true nonetheless. I have always been thought of by others as outgoing and a strong leader, but I learned at some point that I am a true introvert. I can be happy for hours and days on end by myself. I like people and enjoy company but I don't really crave or need it to be happy. I consider myself to be very happy with my life. That doesn't mean it is perfect or all the details are peachy, but I am happy with all I have been blessed with. And yet I cry a lot, at the drop of a pin. Not sad crying, just emotions that bring me to tears. You did great expressing yourself in this post, and I think it might help others understand you or themselves a little better.

emmalou said...

I wished you would just keep writing because I can't even figure out the words for all that I'm thinking and feeling... and it's like somehow you can. Thank you for that.

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

One of the great advantages of writing things down you wouldn't say is that you can really think about it and plan out your presentation better than when you talk.

I can imagine it's hard eating differently from other people. I'm sure you'll figure it out with time.

I don't feel all that awkward in the birth story discussions...although I really hated them when we didn't have any kids yet and had a hard time getting pregnant. Although I generally feel like I need to justify my need for a c-section...which leads to me saying that I was in labor for three days with Becca...which is true, but sounds a lot worse than it was. I mean if the contractions had been all that bad, she would have popped out instead of ending up not dilating.

I will say this...your c-section story is one of the hardest ones I've heard. I also know that I was NOT looking forward to Anson's c-section after the unpleasant (although not as bad as yours) first c-section. Let me tell you...a planned c-section when you've just barely begun to go into labor is SOOOOOO much different (easier). Still not something I'd ever look forward to, but SO much better in pretty much every way you can think of.