My Love Hate Relationship

I’ve talked in multiple other posts about when I quite alcohol and when I quit quitting. Ever since I decided to quit quitting, I’ve allowed myself to imbibe responsibility and in drastically smaller quantities than prior to taking about a year off. But, even with the lower quantities, I have realized something, my body and taste buds are not on the same page. I have a love hate relationship with alcoholic beverages.

I love the flavor of wine and some mixed drinks. I really liked the flavor of select craft brew seltzers. My body does not like the effects of alcohol. In fact, my body hates it. I’m not talking about hangovers or headaches or the typical effects you hear about. I’m talking about the whole body inflammation and increased anxiety that I get. I didn’t realize these were a thing until I all of a sudden had a drastic increase in them.

It took some time to realize that the alcohol is what is making these things worse. One of the worst ide effects is with my endometriosis. All of a sudden, the pain has started coming back and in the oddest time of the month. I couldn’t figure out why my uterus started hating me again. My joint stiffness and pain increased. My resting anxiety level (not a medical term) is drastically higher. My bloated feeling just won’t go away.

The only thing that has really changed is that I brought alcoholic beverages back into my life. This love hate relationship is really annoying because I can’t find gluten free, non-alcoholic beverages in Utah like I’ve heard other parts of the country has. I would love to have all of the delicious drinks I love without the alcohol included.

Does this mean I’m going to completely quit again? Probably not, but I won’t be drinking a glass of wine just because I feel like it. I’ll reserve drinking to special occasions or random date nights out (whenever those return). I will absolutely make myself virgin bloody mary’s because they are absolutely delicious. I will still cook with wine or other alcohols. But, you won’t find me just sipping on an alcoholic beverage because it is Friday and I can. I need to get rid of this inflammation and anxiety. Life was so much better without it.

Taking Up Space

Just like most people my age, or even those older than me, I was told that kids are not meant to be heard. I was yelled at for running, for stomping, for being too loud, for being bossy, for almost everything. Because of that, I developed a complex. I new that if I was noticed in whatever I was doing, I was doing something wrong and I was taking up too much space. Everything about my life was about everybody else because I got the worst anxiety attacks if I felt that I was ever the center of attention. To say it was uncomfortable, rather to say it is uncomfortable, is putting it mildly.

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I Have a Lot of Empathy

What is empathy and how do I know if I have it? Is it really something I can “have?”

According to Psychology Today, empathy is the ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another person, animal, or fictional character. Empathy is not to be confused with sympathy. Sympathy is the feeling of concern for another person or a desire for the other person to be happier. When a person exhibits empathy, they are feeling the grief or sadness or angst of another person. When a person is sympathetic, they are recognizing the feelings the other person is having and are wishing that person well. You can by both sympathetic and empathetic at the same time, but they are not interchangeable.

Yes, empathy is something that every person can have. Empathy is something that is generally developed as children. There are some people who do not know how to be empathetic and then there are the empaths who are so empathetic that they sometimes aren’t able to distinguish an empathetic feeling from a personal feeling. People can have a lot of empathy and still may not be true empaths.

Those of us who are empaths struggle with the feelings of others’ situations taking over our life. We may end up with anxiety or depression. For example, I am an empath who has to cautiously determine what shows or movies I watch because I take on the stress or pain of the characters. I really enjoyed watching Sons of Anarchy years ago, but my empathetic response left me feeling extremely stressed the rest of my day. I had to stop watching the show. This was the first true example of recognizing what was happening to me that I could identify as a trigger. Even still today, I started watching Outlander and had to pause and maybe even stop because of the reaction I was having to the show.

Shows are just one example. When my friend lost her father recently, I took on the pain and feelings and emotions of losing a wonderful father. It was as though I personally lost a father. Maybe it didn’t help that my dad had just overdosed and proved how far gone he is. Either way, I had a rough few days around my friend’s father’s passing.

When my friend’s are going through hell, I am right there in hell with them. When family is struggling, I am struggling too. I absorb the feelings of what other’s around me are experiencing and experience it with them. This is not something intentional that I do. In fact, I don’t know how to minimize it or even prevent it. I have not learned of any method of potential control over my empathetic response.

So, how do you tell the difference between having a lot of empathy and being an empath? It may be simple, it may not. I truly believe there are different levels of empathy and different levels of being an empath. If you are at all concerned that your level of empathy for others is causing issues in your life, I recommend speaking with a professional. As for me, right now I can generally identify when it is happening and I can work with it.

Empathy is important in our lives and in our society. I wish more people were just a bit more empathetic towards others. We might see more people caring for other’s and helping each other more.

Live in The Moment

I’m sure you’ve had someone tell you this a time or two. Or you’ve been the one telling someone else. Is living in the moment easy for you? It is, then this post may only help you understand those of us who can’t. If living in the moment is a struggle for you, you are not alone my friend. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do in life.

Glennon Doyle summarized it perfectly in this explanation in Untamed:

It’s just that living with anxiety — living alarmed — makes it impossible to enter the moment, to land inside my body and be there. I cannot be in the moment because I am too afraid of what the next moment will bring. I have to be ready.

Living alarmed.

Those two words explain so much about my life without going into great detail. I live alarmed and on edge every single day. I have to be ready. I have to be prepared. I have to know what is coming next so I can be ready for it.

I have to be observant and watchful.

I have to be inconspicuous and calm.

I have to divert the crisis that is about to happen.

I cannot live in the moment and enjoy it because I have to be ready for the next moment that is almost surely going to be some sort of disaster.

Anxiety tells me that something bad is always going to happen next and that I need to be prepared to control it. I need to be prepared to take action. Anxiety leaves me living in constant vigilance of what is coming next.

Not just next in the next second. Next in the next minute. In the next hour. In the next day. In the next month. In the next year. In the next five years. In the next eternity. Whatever is next, I have to be ready.

Spontaneous fun? No, that is not acceptable. I can’t be prepared for it.

Just chilling and hanging out. Mmm maybe but I’m still going to be considering what is coming next once I stop chilling. Also, this must be planned. It cannot be spontaneous.

Why does everything just want to be spontaneous and live in the moment when there is surely something that will go wrong?!

Because they are wired differently.

It doesn’t mean we are bad people because we can’t live as free as they can. I know we have times that life seems easy and spontaneity is possible and living in the moment is possible. We can all get there occasionally. But when we can’t, we are in a constant state of panic.

Some people call us high-strung. They are wrong. We are sensitive people who just want to make sure everyone we love with be alright. And that everything is put away where it goes and done exactly as we think it should be. That’s how we stay safe.

Living in the moment sounds delightful and terrifying at the same time. If you live or are around one of us who carries anxiety with us, give us a little grace as we navigate spontaneity and working to live in the moment. We are working through more than you can see on the outside. We are struggling and happy at the same time, most of the time.

Living in the moment will work for us sometimes and not others. It is nothing against you, it is merely how we are wired. We are working through it. We are struggling. We are overcoming. Take our hand and help us through it without condemnation or some smartass comment. That doesn’t help.

We want to live in the moment, but we also want to hide from the moment so we can prepare for the next one.

Why Am I Stressed?

I have been asking myself this a lot lately and haven’t been able to put my finger on a specific answer. Then I get more stressed because I can’t figure it out. Stress is a vicious cycle for me that comes out towards others. Stress is a battle I have fought all of my life and will continue to fight every single day. For me, stress is like bad heartburn that never leaves.

But it isn’t just stress. My stress enables and exaggerates my anxiety. When I’m stressed, I snap about things that aren’t perfect or my anxiety about what might go wrong or who I’m offending is quick to escalate. A lot of people say “get over it, just relax” and I wish I could. I fight every single day trying to figure out how to just chill out. I watch other people act like they have absolutely no care in the world and I am almost envious of how easy it is for them. At least it looks easy from my point of view.

Right now, as I’m writing this, why am I stressed? I can’t nail down one specific thing. I feel like it is a smattering of multiple triggers that keep compounding on each other.

Seeing that we are coming out of quarantine, you might think it is because we can’t go anywhere. Nope, I am LOVING staying home. I am an introvert who likes my freedom at home. I mean, I do like to travel, but as I turn internal and search, not traveling is not even bubbling as a potential trigger. But I think I might have just identified one thing from a previous sentence. “My freedom at home.” I haven’t had my freedom at home because I’ve had house guests for over a month. Maybe this is one of my triggers. This introvert hasn’t had her space or things exactly as she wants them in her house so she is triggered.

I did tell Eddie the other day that I am over-peopled. You know, it’s an extension of being over-stimulated but because people have been around too much. I can kick Eddie to the basement or outside or even to a friends’. I can’t boot house guests. It’s not like I don’t like these people, hell, I even love them. I think I’m just coming to a realization that I can only tolerate extra people for so long and then I need space. This may sound rude to the house guests, but it isn’t. It is a personality and self-care acknowledgement. I’m not going to boot my house guests at all. I will just space them out a bit further next time they might be here one right after the other.

Work has been so busy that it is definitely a stressor. I feel like I haven’t been able to get anything accomplished even though I have. I know this is one of my stress and anxiety triggers so I am making sure to disconnect and not review every email that comes in after I’ve logged out for the day.

Why am I stressed? I think I found a couple of reasons, but I think there are more. For me there usually are.

While yes, stress is a bad thing for us, we can’t always prevent it. We must work through it and keep going. Or take a break and fully disconnect. Both are necessary, but sometimes only one is possible. The most important thing about being stressed is to work on not living in that stressed feeling. If we can do a little work and a little more to overcome the stress, we will get through it. The day that we live fully in the stress is the day that we start shutting the door to coming out of the stressed mode. Don’t live there. It won’t do you any good.

How do I get unstressed? It depends on what is happening in life. Right now, I am breathing through every moment that I feel the stress coming on and taking over. If I miss the onset, I apologize for the flip out I just had and reflect on how I could have identified it without demeaning myself. I also try to remove the direct stressor or something else to allow more room for whatever is going on. Crying helps too. Let it all out.

Life can be stressful. Life can be beautiful. My life does not exist without both the stress and the beauty. I choose each day to work past the stress to see the beautiful life that I have created.