Integrity

I’d never given much though to the meaning behind the word integrity. I knew integrity meant having morals and values and abiding by them. However, in reading, “Further Along, the Road Less Traveled,” By Scott M. Peck. M.D., he provides a more complete definition which is, “the state of being whole and undivided.” Basically having all of you be integrated. Being consistently you in every situation. When you think of integrity in this way it is much more profound. You can’t be you consistently if you don’t know who you are. You can’t be you consistently if you have fear of showing that self to others. Many people including myself have played the role of a chameleon at times. It takes real courage to be you at all times. A true level of honesty and vulnerability that most people are afraid to have. Committing to integrity has its price.

Many people I believe mask their emotions to others. Especially in business, it is almost expected for you to do so. To some degree this makes sense as you wouldn’t be successful operating under hysteria. However, as humans, emotions come with the gig. To expect someone to operate without them or to mask them expertly at all times is unreasonable. My honesty to myself and others about my internal state of emotions and thoughts are one area where I display high levels of integrity. This has not always played well in my favor. Especially during the years where my internal state was extremely volatile. My moods still, if I am not consistently using my tools and being mindful, can fluctuate unexpectedly. To some degree this is a part of just being human, moods and such. Having struggled with a mood disorder though for many years, my mood shifts are much more extreme than the average person.

In retrospect, I’ve wondered would I have a less muddled image if I had a better poker face? A better reputation if I were able to better hide my energy and emotions and put on the mask that many people are savants at wearing?

Brene Brown when she talked about vulnerability said:

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?”

I’ve always struggled with this sort of discernment though. I’m not sure I’ve ever made anyone “earn the right” to hear my story. My story is always here, accessible, and available. This could leave me in a place to be hurt, if I allow it to hurt me. It feels like I’ve trailed off from my topic a bit, but I think these are connected. My struggle with sharing who I am, my internal state, as a form of integrity. Should I be making people earn that right? Is a lack of discrimination in who I am honest or openness with, integrity? Or just stupid recklessness?

Living with Inverse Acne

I’ve decided to write about the disease that I have had since I was 15. The one that has tormented me and left me scarred mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’ve just recently begun trying to open up about the condition. Today I wrote a blog on shame and one of the ways out of shame that I had researched and read about was to open up about it. This disease causes immense shame, depression, and anxiety due to the ongoing stigmatization of the disease.

What is Inverse Acne you might be asking? It is formally known as Hidradenitis Supporativa (HS). HS is an inflammatory disease which causes lesions that typically form in areas where skin folds exist and where hair grows more significantly. The most common places for it to occur are in armpits, groin, under women’s breasts, and the anal areas. It can occur in almost any area on the body however. It can be hereditary, and it was handed down to me. As with most diseases, obesity and smoking are linked to worsening HS conditions.

The disease typically starts around puberty and thus has been thought to have some sort of hormonal linkage. I myself started seeing flare ups around the age of 15. I remember when I finally got the courage to ask my mother about it, she told me she too got them, and basically that it would go away. I wasn’t provided with any more information on the condition or ways to treat it. I know now this is because my mother has never been provided with that either. It is hard to get a correct diagnosis with HS and even harder to find someone who knows enough about it to provide effective treatment options. Many times it goes undiagnosed because patients are too ashamed to mention it.

There are 3 stages to HS. Stage I is a single bump with no sinus tracts. Stage II is more than one bump but little tunneling. Stage III is multiple bumps with a lot of sinus tracts and scars involving an entire area of the body. People can be in different stages at different times in their life and they can be in different stages in different areas on their body. They may have for example stage I in their armpits but stage III in their groin area.

There are a couple myths concerning HS which I will mention:
1. You have HS because you are overweight. People of all sizes have HS. Weight can be a factor in worsening HS flares since it creates more areas on the body for skin folds to rub but it does not cause HS. I lost over 100 lbs once and I did see a decrease in flares but it did not get rid of the condition. I still had flares when I was my optimal weight.

2. You have an STD. HS is NOT an STD. It is NOT contagious. Because HS regularly appears in the groin and genital area it can cause fear that it will be mistaken for an STD. Because of the area/location for which these occur (in the groin) area it can create poor body image and make sexual relationships challenging.

3. You’re dirty. Cleanliness can help manage HS but it does not cause HS. Because it is a skin condition staying clean can help the healing process but if you have HS it does not mean you are dirty.

HS is an inflammatory disease and there is no cure. Some patients go into remission in their later years, my mom however is 67 and is still dealing with the condition. Therefore, I do not hold too much hope for remission.

There are a plethora of treatment options out there and from my over 20 years of experience very few are effective. The issue with HS is that each person reacts differently to the various treatment options. What is effective for one person is not necessarily effective for others. For years my dermatologist had me on various doses of low grade antibiotics, such as moxifloxacin and doxycycline. Neither of which did much to prevent or lesson issues concerning flare ups. I was once told by an ER nurse who had to lance one of my lesions to be sure to change my wash clothes and towels after every use. Which is a practice I have continued to follow for the last 10 years. Again not by way of helping much.

Over the years I have had several areas that have had to be lanced including my stomach and back. Around 2015, I under went my first surgery for HS. What can happen with HS is the infection if it goes away and continues to resurface in the same area is it can eventually cause tracts of infection that form underneath the skin. When it gets to this point there are very few options of treating it outside of surgically excising the infected area and enough of the surrounding tissue in hopes of preventing its reoccurrence. The area I had my first surgery on was my stomach. The area directly below my belly button. I got flare ups in that area due to my weight and my skin overlapping in that area causing friction with my clothing.

Outside of weight, friction, and tight clothing, other things that can cause flares are excessive heat and sweating. Stress is also known to cause flares as well as some people report food as another flaring agent.

When I moved to Florida in 2016, I didn’t immediately notice a difference in my HS. Then around the beginning of 2017, I decided to really do something about my weight. I started walking very vigorously every day, sometimes multiple times a day. With that I did manage to lose 20 pounds. But between the heat and the weight causing friction in my groin area I developed several lesions which kept reoccurring in that area. Never really knowing how to treat them in the past I continued to exercise and just hoped they would go away.

It didn’t. It continued to get worse. In 2019, I ended up having groin surgery where about a 5 inch incision was made along my groin and labia majora. The whole process was extremely embarrassing and emotionally painful. Having to go to doctors and spread em’ and allow for the area of your body that you are most shamed of, to be seen by others, by strangers. As a female, this is one area you truly don’t want to have to be dissected and scarred.  I would have gladly taken back the 20 pounds I lost if I could have gone back and prevented the lesions from originally forming. That is the rub, not intending to be a pun, but that is it, you want to lose weight to help with body image issues and to help prevent flares but exercise can be challenging as it can cause flare ups. I am fortunate that I have a swimming pool. Swimming seems to be one of the few activities that I can do that don’t cause flares.

After my last surgery, I started seeking additional help and treatment options. I found a doctor in Miami who specializes in HS. I also found a couple of different facebook communities. Between the two I have learned several things I have been implementing over the last 9 months, with some levels of success.

I’ve learned that some of my flare up triggers do come from food, stress, being overweight, and heat/excessive sweating/rubbing. I’ve begun incorporating swimming into my life 3 to 5 times a week (depending on weather) to try to continue work on getting myself into a healthy weight. I now pay someone to do my lawn and landscaping work. I enjoy doing that work myself but with Florida humidity I’ve become too afraid that it could cause new flares. I’ve also changed my diet completely. The items they mentioned as general culprits are dairy, night shades (such as peppers and tomatoes), and grains. I have eliminated most of these almost entirely, with the exception of my occasional relapses with grains. I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness and doing yoga daily to help manage my stress. When I get stress not only does it trigger flares but I am prone to stress eating and when this occurs I typically eat foods known to cause flares therefore, doubling my chances of flare ups.

When I do get a flare up, that experience in itself is stressful. There is a lot of fear that it is going to be the flare that is going to become problematic, the new lesion that will put me back in the surgeons office to have additional parts of my body carved out. More scars. Because of this fear I am generally very hard on myself when I have flares. I blame myself, like, I shouldn’t have eaten that, or I am not doing a good enough job practicing mindfulness. I need to learn to have more compassion with myself. Even though I do fall short in some of these areas, this is a disease, and even if I managed everything perfectly I would still get occasional flares.

Here is my current regimen I am following to try to prevent flares using information I’ve gathered either from the HS support groups or my doctor. This is in addition to the diet, swimming, and avoidance of excessive humidity/walking that I previously mentioned. Every morning I take a daily probiotic, 50 mg tablet of zinc, a multivitamin, and 500 mg of Turmeric. I take a hot as I can stand it bath for 20 minutes, 4 to 5 times a week. In that bath I put 12 drops of oregano extract oil, 12 drops of tea tree oil, and lots of epsom salts. All of these are known for treating inflammation. The result is I smell like Italian food. On days I don’t bath, I shower with my fresh wash cloth using the recommended soap, Dove for sensitive skin, and I use a benzoyl peroxide acne cream wash. I dry off from showering with my fresh towel and then apply Clindamycin to any active flares. Clindamycin is a topical antibiotic treatment to help prevent as well as treat active HS flares.

With everything that I just expressed that I am doing, I report that I continue to get flares. Doing these treatments even with minimal success however allows me to feel somewhat empowered which does provide some hope. My most recent doctor suggested I try Humira which is a biologic that is used to treat things like HS, Psoriasis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is an injectable, and something I’d have to inject once a week. When I researched the side effects they were extremely scary. The reason Humira helps these conditions is because it decreases your immune system which lowers inflammation. I opted not to try it for now and to continue trying to manage it using the regime I described above. I’m grateful that had been my decision because shortly after the Cornoa virus emerged. Many people with HS who were on Humira have had to stop their treatment temporarily due to fear that it will make them more vulnerable to Covid-19. I’m not saying I will never try humira. If managing it through this other regime proves to be ineffective and my condition worsens I’m sure I’ll become more willing to try other options. Fear and pain are great motivators.

The main purpose behind me sharing all of this is because I’m tired of being ashamed. I’m tired of being afraid to talk about it for fear of being judged, pitied, disgusted, and/or rejected. I started opening up about this with my sponsor and my therapist in 2019. In fact it was my sponsor who was kind enough to take me to and pick me up from the hospital after my groin surgery. I then most recently briefly mentioned it in a podcast that I did. I am beginning to share about it more openly. Just as coming out as being gay was painful and scary to talk about initially it was necessary for me to heal and for self-acceptance. I feel like this is the beginning of that process with my HS. Let the healing begin!

Online Shaming During the Pandemic.

I woke up this morning feeling very heavy with the amount of shaming that has been occurring over the last several weeks on social media platforms regarding the pandemic. People expressing their opinions, judgements, and jokes about others regarding toilet paper, travel, social distancing, and now wearing masks. Online shaming has in itself become a new norm providing an avenue for someone to express their judgement and get validated for it.

I’ve never had much education around shame. The most amount of education prior to today that I’d received on shame is from the TedX talk by Brene Brown. In her talk, she stated, “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.”

Shame occurs regularly in society. It has been there all along and I never recognized it for what it was. “Shame is external and comes from judgment from others to try to enforce social norms…Social Norms are unwritten rules about how to behave. They provide us with an expected idea of how to behave in a particular social group or culture.” (McLeod, 2008). Examples of social norms include flushing the toilet when you exit a bathroom stall, washing your hands before leaving the restroom, covering your mouth when you cough, and chewing with your mouth closed.

Shaming is an “attempt to enforce either a real, or perceived, violation of a social norm…External enforcement for norm violation might be shaming or ostracizing the violator from the group; or it could be honoring an individual for compliance with the norm” (Klonic, 2016).

Shaming has been and is used in religion, politics, our schools, and legal systems. “In the bible, nakedness is a source of shame. The book of Genesis 2:25 says of Adam and Eve, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” That changed when they rebelled against God’s commandment and ate of the tree of knowledge. From then on, they felt ashamed in each other’s presence: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” This biblical interpretation of nakedness as shameful still deeply informs the social norms and conventions that determine how we deal with human physicality and sexuality. Although our notions of whether, how, where and in the presence of whom a person may be undressed have changed over the centuries, the shame we feel when we transgress the norms has remained” (Kammerer, 2019).

My Catholic upbringing kept me in the closet for years for the fear of being shamed and shunned for being gay.

Our legal system uses shaming as a means for punishment and one form which I’d not given much thought to before is by forcing those who receive a DUI to have “drunk tags” on their car. Alcoholism is something in particular that is often publicly shamed due to the misunderstanding of the illness. Social shaming occurs within the recovery community itself to aid in enforcing certain behaviors such as getting a sponsor and service work. During the pandemic there has been shaming around those choosing to stay home and attend zoom meetings versus those choosing to continue to go to in person meetings. Those choosing to go to meetings quoting the responsibility statement. Those choosing to stay home quoting the CDC. Both creating a divide within the community.

As I continued my research this morning one article discussed how shame has been used in our school systems through charts depicting good or bad behavior. This made me reflect back to my second grade school teacher. She had a giant cutout of a dog house that she kept at the front classroom. Each student in the class had a bone with their name written on it. If we misbehaved in class we were asked to get up in front of the class and retrieve our bone and put it in the dog house. Clearly this made an impact on me considering this is one of the few things that I recall from my early years.

From the limited amount of research I have done, it seems that shame can sometimes be effective in controlling behavior, hence its still prevalent use in society.

The problems though with using shame as a means for social norms enforcement is, “it creates an ‘us or them’ boundary that reinforces group affiliation and separateness. It can become about groups, perceived good guys and bad guys and not about issues” (Rutledge, 2015).

“Shaming  is an attack, it triggers our desire to protect ourselves and withdraw. It is not the opening of a dialogue.  While I am in favor of highlighting places in society where change is desirable, promoting shaming as a solution hurts us all.   Negative emotions make people (and organizations) close-up; they diminish cognitive flexibility and lessen the willingness to consider other points of view.  Using social shaming creates exactly the opposite environment to the one that would be most likely to lead to positive resolution” (Rutledge, 2015).

The problems specifically with online shaming is that the effects are unending. Once posted, the punishment is ongoing which seems unjust for a potential slight infringement. In addition, it does not always take into account the full story. Perhaps the reason you saw xyz person without a mask, or out in public, is for a “good” socially acceptable reason? “When the state punishes, it has applied a process to determine whether the person being punished has in fact committed the thing for which they are being punished. No such measure exists in norm enforcement and the Internet’s ability to amplify social norm enforcement punishment is made even worse when there was no actual norm violation to cause it” (Klonic, 2016).

The other down side to using shame is that you can’t be sure of its effectiveness. Shaming is only effective if those it is being used on have the same societal norms as you and place the same value on those norms.

You also never know how shame will be internalized by another individual. Some people are more shame-prone and others more guilt-prone. People who are more shame-prone tend to have greater levels of depression and anxiety. Your intentions might be good in attempting to shame people to “right behavior” however if they are shame-prone it can have a much deeper effect. An example provided by Kammerer, 2019, shows the difference in guilt-prone vs shame-prone individuals. “A shame-prone individual who is reprimanded for being late to work…might be likely to think, ‘I’m such a loser; I just can’t get it together,’ whereas a guilt-prone individual would more likely think, ‘I feel badly for showing up late. I inconvenienced my co-workers.’ Feelings of shame can be painful and debilitating, affecting one’s core sense of self, and may invoke a self-defeating cycle of negative affects.”

We all are going to have judgements, we are human. Understanding the impact judgements and shaming can have on others though has been extremely eye-opening for me.

To end this on a more positive note, here are a couple tips I found on the Clearview Treatment Programs website, 2020, on ways out of shame:

  1. Seek out relationships and commit to vulnerability with safe people.Do everything in your power to find community. Shame begins to disappear when it is shared in a safe place.
  2. Move out of your head and into the open.Don’t keep everything inside. Put your shame out into the world. Write about the shame. Share your story of shame. Create artwork that represents your shame. Shame finds healing when it is taken outside of ourselves and placed into the world in some way.
  3. Develop self-compassion.Consider what you would say to a friend who was feeling the same things you feel. Begin to respond to yourself with love and care and concern, just as you would respond to others with love and care and concern.

 

 

References

Kammerer, A. 2019. The Scientific Underpinnings and Impacts of Shame. Retrieved from:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-underpinnings-and-impacts-of-shame/

Klonic, K. 2016. Re-Shaming the Debate: Social Norms, Shame, and Regulation in the Internet Age. Maryland Law Review. v. 17., Issue 4.

McLeod, S. 2008. Social Roles. Retrieved from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-roles.html

Shannon, Lori. 2020. Clearview Treatment Programs. 5 Ways Shame Can Shape Your Life. Retrieved from: https://www.clearviewtreatment.com/blog/5-ways-shame-can-shape-life/

Rutledge, P. B., Ph.D. 2015. Psychology Today. Shame on Social Shamers. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201505/shame-social-shamers

How Bizarre

Sometimes my mind gets so full with awareness of how bizarres it is, this world we live in. Take corporations for example. People make up some service, give it a label, put shiny things around it, logos, websites, business cards, marketing. Then with a dash – include your “important” title, CEO, and Co-founder, your name. There you go. Legitimacy. Then you work to get followers on social media. Then, if you begin to get big enough you can build social classes within your org structures. The kind where when someone says jump others say how high. The place where you go but don’t allow people to have feelings or original thoughts. Where you can evaluate people annually by a set of unrecognizable standards that aren’t applicable to anyone which are ignored anyway and ultimately give raises based on how well you like people. Were we better off on a bartering system?

Or how about the system of housing where unless you live somewhere until you die, the poor house just never gets paid off. If a house was originally built for $100,000. It sells for $150,000 in 1815. Just making up numbers and dates. Then let’s say every 20 years it gets sold to a new owner. It is in an up and coming neighborhood and with inflation, each time it gets resold the cost goes up $10,000. So now the person who bought the house in 2015 owes $400,000 for a house that is almost a 200 years old and has already probably been paid for twice over. I’m terrible at math so not even sure if those numbers work out, but you get the point. It will continue to re-sell unless someone stays in it until they die and passes it down in the family forever. How bizarre.

The other thing I was thinking about is how everyone, including myself, wants to think we are special in some way, even though really we aren’t. I mean, I know people are like snowflakes, right? Each one unique. Unique yes. But is everyone really special? We all crave opportunities to feel unique and special. I am going to give some examples, some that I have been guilty of myself. Being the #1 fan of anything. First of all, you aren’t, lol. Second of all, who cares. Why do we feel like this makes us special in some way. And lord forbid if you luck out and a new movie of something you were always a “#1 fan” of comes out, or the main character in that movie dies in real life. You just hit the lottery! This is your moment to REALLY shine. You get to post on social media, to make sure everyone remembers how much of a fan you were, and how significant this is to you. What is that?? We’ll try to one-up someone on how much trauma we’ve experienced. How “hard we’ve had it.” Or on the flip side, “look at how good I have it.” Why? We are all looking for a niche to show some sort of skill to try to find our self-worth? Is my self-worth under this painting? Perhaps inside this sculpture? Did they hide it in my bonus? Perhaps it’s in this kid I accidentally had? I never checked behind this degree on my wall. Will they forget me or did I even exist if I don’t find it? I must be here for some reason. I must be special. I know I’m special my mother told me so and everyone around agreed at how special I was compared to other babies. They didn’t say those things to all babies right? No, definitely not. I was special. But are we? Do we have a purpose? Argue your point. I don’t have one, I’m just lying here wondering,  how bizarre.

We are on a roll so lets keep going. Other random thoughts. I read a psychology study one time and it talked about how upon interviews with doctors, people, primarily women, but I think even men too, they hide their underwear when they get naked in doctors offices. Why do we do that? Is the underwear dirty? So why do we hide them? Are we ashamed of our underwear? Do we think they smell? Are we worried someone will steal them? You tell me? I think for myself, there is some weird embarrassment around someone seeing my underwear. But again why? I’m about to spread eagle in front of that same person. They can see my labia but not my jockey shorts? Another question I wonder a lot about is when women go to the gyno, why are some more comfortable seeing a man vs seeing a woman? I prefer to see a woman EVERYTHING, therapist, pcp , eye doctor, surgeons, ob/gyn. I’ve always had male dentists though. I think that might be more due to the lack of female dentist in my network near where I live tho perhaps. Why do I want all female doctors? Am I looking for the nurturing I did not get as a kid? Does anyone else think of this shit? I must be special because I have these thoughts, lol. How bizarre.

Boundaries

What are their motives?
If you learn to listen, they will be made clear,
The healthier I am,
The more I can hear.

Most, simply doing the best they can,
Taking this into account,
As I observe from where I am,
Each person trying to meet their needs,
Even if they are unaware of what they are.

Amazing vessels in which we reside,
Consciously we feel the craving,
Physiologically the body understanding what is needed inside,
Each of us seeking to meet these requests.

Discerning where your energy is spent,
More easily decided,
Based upon others intent,
No longer needing to fill an empty hole,
More thoroughly understanding my own worth,
Puts decisions back under my control,
Able to set boundaries,
Aligning my environment with my long term goals.

Having compassion,
Leaving space for whatever that relationship may be,
But only committing to actions,
Toward the path that always keeps me free,
Free from emotional deflections, limiting perceptions, social bondage, spiritual blockage, energy deleters, and dream disbelievers,
Choosing my circle wisely of spiritual seekers, passionate dreamers, enthusiastic supporters, and tenacious warriors,

Capacity to think more in the gray,
Which provides allowance for others to be how they may,
Non-judging but acknowledging my right to live my best life,
Which may or may not include you today.

 

Sleepy Thoughts

How amazing it feels to not be where you were and when someone is capable of taking you fresh from where you are. How long past impressions linger within others is unfortunate. We like to put people in categories based on our past experiences. We are so flawed as humans, seeing things from where we are. Through the lenses of our past experiences, our desires, our conditioning. It makes acceptance of others more challenging. I used to carry so much with me, anxiety, weird energy, paranoia, and defensiveness. This is what people saw. Now people comment saying, “you seem happy today what is going on?” What’s going on is I am no longer the person I once was. On most my good days, I can live presently without stories, allowing me to have an open energy and lightness about me I didn’t once have. I guess only repeated behavioral patterns over an extended period of time will change the existing perceptions others have of me. As recovery would say, “10 or 20 years of drunkenness would make a skeptic out of anyone.” I can’t fault them as I too judge others. It is just refreshing when I am embraced anew, without having to prove that change to someone.

I am now able on good days to ground myself and walk into situations with a sense of openness and curiosity. Not assuming the worst of others or feeling scared, guarded, or defensive. To do this required me to be willing to journey inward within myself and look at my own thoughts and emotions with a sense of openness and curiosity. When I start feeling some sort of way I no longer need to run from the feelings, numb them, deflect it onto others, or use it to beat myself up. I can simply look at it with space, neutrality, and curiosity.

I’m exhausted but I had an amazing conversation tonight with an incredibly intelligent and beautiful woman. I got to listen as she explained how she observed and broke down the feeling of jealousy. I love that. It was such a big deal to me when I was able to finally see something energetically shift within myself and not get drawn into it. The first few times it happened were in recovery meetings. When I would share and someone after me would share something either in agreement or what I interpreted as disagreement to what I shared. I noticed this very strong stir of emotions would well up inside. I didn’t know exactly how to interpret it other than to just label it as ego. I was attached to my words and others either accepting or discrediting them caused thoughts to generate which would tell me stories about my worth or people’s acceptance of me. This was especially true on topics I felt more strongly about such as spirituality.

Something else I realized while talking to this beautiful woman is something I do pretty regularly in many relationships and in general. Which is comparing. Comparing my life, my activities, my skills, my relationships to others. Which is such a silly thing. We are all so uniquely different in our personalities, our needs, our goals, and overall physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual paths. How can you compare??? But yet, it is still a repeated pattern for me. This I definitely feel is the thing reoccurring the most in my life right now, breaking this will provide tremendous freedom.

For some reason this made my thought process go to Buddhist Monks and the mandalas art they do in sand and then immediately destroy. I think the act of this teaches so many things. It allows for practice of acceptance and letting go. It removes the capacity for comparison.  It is the practice of doing something for the love of doing it without the desire for acknowledgement or acceptance. Doing something without trying to derive your self-worth from it. In the past, much of what I posted and did was for recognition. I do not want to portray that I am free from this quality as I think I still do this frequently today. I am aware of it though. There is so much inside that must come out. Releasing that need for recognition or acknowledgment allows for much more creative expression in your art or craft. The reward is the very act of expunging whatever needs to be expunged whether that be a blog, a drawing, or a speech regardless or not of it ever been seen or heard. You cannot be a failure when you are simply having the courage to share for the sake of sharing. To create for the sake of creating.

Come For a Walk With Me

Walking with my dogs,
Sun beating down,
Shadows from tree leaves dance on the ground,

I have to pee

Ok…I am a block from the house, 
Harping on this will not make me arrive any faster,

Breathe, do my mantra, “I am worthy of love and connection.”

I need to clean the bathroom, it is so dirty, once I get that done I can sit down and relax. Then I’ll be happy.

Ok…I am a block from the house, 
Harping on this will not make me arrive any faster,

Breathe.

It smells like a early summer morning,
Shortly after I mowed the grass for my father in my youth.

Breathe.

God, why does Andie have to take so fucking long to smell that mailbox. Seriously, this is ridiculous.

Because this is their time, they sit in that house while I do God knows what, let them enjoy this time. How selfish I am.

Don’t fret, I give them a much better life than most. Many people don’t even walk their dogs. I love them and I am doing my best.

Apparently a third voice has decided to chime in,
To try to absolve me of my sins,
Breathe, feel the sun warm on my skin.

I need to get back and clean that bathroom. It’ll take me an hr at most to do everything I need to do in the house. Then I can sit and enjoy the rest of the day. I’ll feel so much better.

It repeats.
Breathe, “I am worthy of love and connection.” Breathe.

God here they go again. Charlie is going to pee on Andie’s head. I swear he fucking loves to give him golden showers. What the fuck. 

Anger rising up from within,
Where does this come from?
Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Here comes a truck. Don’t make eye contact. You’ll have to smile or nod. I hate social pleasantries. Just look at the ground. Act like you are busy corralling the dogs. 

What kind of love and awareness am I brining into the world with that attitude. What’s wrong with me.

Breathe. One step. Feel my feet touch the earth. Breathe.
Beauty. Colors. Chirping of birds.

Wait is that kids I hear? God please don’t let them come over here. They are going to ask to pet Charlie. Charlie is going to be an asshole and act like he is going to bite their face. It is going to be this whole ordeal. It is going to stress me out.

Well if I think like that I am going to attract that situation. Laws of attraction remember.

Breathe. Release. “I am worthy of love and connection.” “Financial abundance is on its way.” Breathe.

Third season of Handmaids Tale. I wonder if binge watching this has fucked with my head. 

Breathe. Eyes close. Breathe. Sun warms me. Breathe. “I am home.” “I am home.”

I need to clean the bathroom. God it is so fucking dirty. Ugh, it is totally making me feel like shit.

Irritation building up inside.
Ruining this moment. This moment which has absolutely nothing wrong it. A perfectly fine moment.

You know as soon as you clean the bathroom, your brain is going to find some other issue to bitch about.

Breathe. Smell the fresh cut grass. Breathe.