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Friday, May 11, 2012

I have asthma. I like to pretend I don't because asthma is annoying and I would rather not have it. Being a runner at 8000 feet has caused my lungs to develop in ways they would not otherwise, and living in a relatively air pollution-free environment has allowed me to breathe without difficulty about 99.9% of the time. However, occasionally my lungs remind me that they're not quite perfect. I woke up this morning because of that little reminder.

I don't like taking my inhaler medication. It tastes nasty and makes me feel unfocused and shaky. Given the fact that I deal with anxiety and panic daily, I don't need the added dimension the inhaler provides. Often, if I quietly concentrate on breathing and go about my day as usual, the wheezing eases and I can avoid taking the nasty medicine. I've been working on this for about three hours now. It's not working and I can't go running till the wheezing is under control. I'm thinking of taking a day off my physical therapy/running, getting into a steamy shower, and maybe taking it easy today.

I suppose, if I'm still struggling to breathe in an hour, I'll take my medication and stop being stubborn.

Darrin says I'm like this with everything. When an easy "fix" is available, I find all the reasons I don't want to do it, I put it off as long as possible, and I try every possible alternative to avoid doing what's easiest. I don't know that that's true, but I often understand that the end result is not always better than the initial situation when one uses what seems the obvious solution.

I am in the process of figuring out who I am--what I look like, why I feel certain emotions, how I feel about myself and others, why selected things frighten or delight me... It's not an easy process, and I don't recommend it to anyone. I hate doing it. I find myself discovering all sorts of uglies within, and wishing I knew how to change them. I feel vulnerable often, unloved most days, and powerless when I used to feel powerful. Reality--my former reality--seems counterfeit.

Therapist suggested I not do this alone. I ignored his advice. That was a bad idea.

He told me I need someone to balance my discoveries, for while they're valid, they're not always accurate. He suggested that my beliefs, especially those dealing with how I believe others perceive me, are not always correct, and the purpose of doing this is to gain a more truthful understanding of who I am. So why did I disregard his advice?

I think I wanted to avoid leaning on another person's opinion of who I am. For years, as much as I have tried to stop doing so, I have heard the things said about me by my mother, and I have believed them. I have heard her tell me I was homely, ungainly, and fat. I have listened as she belittled my ability to read and write well. I have heard her disregard my musical talent--dismissing it, calling it unimportant--while at the same time pushing me to play or sing often, enter competitions, audition for groups--not because I was worthwhile or talented, but simply because it was expected of me. I believed her assertions that I am unwanted, lazy, stupid, socially awkward, disrespectful, unlovable.

Those were not the only messages sent to me by my mother. She taught me many things--especially about homemaking. I listened and learned and finally, surpassed her. When she didn't know I was listening, I heard her tell people how she loved hearing me play or sing. One day, when I went to her for help with an English assignment, she admitted to me that I was much smarter than she, and the schoolwork I was doing was far beyond her ability to help. At the time I believed she just didn't wish to take time to help me. Now, I believe she was telling the truth.

But she never told me she was proud of me. Any achievement I made was ignored, belittled, or taken for granted. And I was always made to feel that there was nothing about me that was beautiful. I was obnoxious and annoying. I had nothing important to contribute to conversations. I was cankerous, belligerent, rebellious, disrespectful...

The voice should have been silenced long ago.

It should have been silenced when--

-I took an IQ test which assured me I was not stupid.
-I received three music degrees which let me know my ability was above average.
-I won awards and achievements in many different areas.
-I realized I make friends easily, people aren't frightened of me and they actually believe I'm pleasant and delightful.
-I recognized that while my bones no longer poke out as they did when I was emaciated because of anorexia, I look healthy and fit--but even if I was fat, it wouldn't really change who I am.
-In spite of a failing economy, I've never lost a job or been without work. In fact, I've always had too much work.
-I chose to live my adult life near the person who tore me down, accepted her request for forgiveness, offered my own for any offenses I've given, and tried to build a relationship with her.

There are many reasons the voice should be silent. But it is not.


It's time for me to figure out how much of what that voice said was true and disregard those things which were untrue. I need to decide for myself what I look like, what personality traits I will claim or discard, and if, in fact, I am unwanted or unlovable. I need to know--and I need to believe what I know.

Probably I will take Therapist's advice in the near future. When I have established what I believe, I will seek corroboration. Because I'm a coward, I'll probably ask people who won't say unkind things to me, but I think, given the bulk of unkindness I endured as a child, that's probably okay. There's nothing wrong with finding people who support and affirm who you are.

And now I'm going to try that steamy shower thing. I still do not want to take my medicine.

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