reflecting and looking forward

“No peeking”, a Sinful Sunday photo from May 2016.

Well, 2019 was a year. Fortunately there was more positive than negative.

IBS-friendly diet and improved energy

In late 2018, I started managing my IBS using a FODMAP-based diet and by January 2019 I could tell that it was having a positive effect, and not only on my digestive symptoms.

The most unexpected — and utterly delightful — effect was that it largely resolved the fatigue that I’d struggled with for over seven years at that point, despite having undergone every relevant test my doctor could think of. As a result, instead of being constantly dragged down and only randomly experiencing the occasional unpredictable ‘on’ day, most days are now good days and if I get blindsided by some surprise fatigue, reverting to a conservative diet and waiting out my digestive process for a maximum of three days almost always resolves the issue.

For an accidental discovery, it’s had a huge effect on my day-to-day life. A few years ago, the combination of fatigue, poor sleep, depression and then antidepressants meant that I never knew for sure if I’d have the energy, cognition or focus to a given thing at a given time. (A few weeks after I tapered off the antidepressants in April 2018, the cognition and focus came back, but fatigue remained.) Eventually I got tired of disappointing myself so I just stopped planning anything and instead would decide on the day whether I was up for doing the thing. Which was me doing my best to cope, but it wasn’t very effective and it had exacerbated my inherent tendency not to make plans or have goals.

I now have the energy to plan and set goals, though I’m not actually very good at either of those things. So I’ll be working on that in all areas of my life, especially food (shopping, prepping, cooking), and sexuality (specifically exploring the factors that may be contribute to my low libido).

meditation

At the beginning of 2019 I started going to a weekly meditation class with a Buddhist group that meets conveniently near my place. I’d been thinking for some time that meditation would probably be good for my buzzy brain. And during my most recent meditation, I became aware that even though my brain is still far from quiet, it’s perceptibly quieter than it was when I started a year ago. It’s nice to feel that sense of progress.

I’m not practicing regularly at the moment but I’m working on making it part of my routine. And I’ll continue going to the classes because I find them helpful and I like the people: folks who are actively working on themselves to to decrease criticism and increase compassion are people I want to be around.

Wolf’s new job

Another significant change was that at the beginning of 2019 Wolf got a good contract job in a nearby city. For a change, we’re now both working at the same time, so things have suddenly gotten much easier financially, although he now has the expense of his own apartment and utilities. I’m in the process of paying out our mortgage early (we’re currently in payout limbo as the request has been made but the bank hasn’t withdrawn the money yet), so there’s a financial freedom on the horizon for us.

It’s not a secure enough job for me to consider upping stakes yet. But we’re making efforts to remain connected despite the distance, and he’s going to look for enjoyable things we can do when I come to visit to help with my project to have more pleasure in my life.

solitude

But with Wolf away, I’m once again alone here. It’s less than ideal but nowhere near as difficult as when he was overseas doing his doctorate: I tend not to get especially lonely; we talk on the phone every day and see each other every few weeks; neither of us are dealing with depression and/or anxiety the way we were before; and I still have support from Jaime.

Some time ago, I discovered that I couldn’t answer the questions “what do I like? what do I want?” in relation to sex. I now see that I struggle to answer these questions at all, for anything. I think this is largely because other people’s needs and wants seem much louder to me than my own. (It’s no coincidence that my epiphany occurred only after Wolf had been away for the better part of two years.)

But there is a mental quietness that comes from being by myself virtually all the time, enhanced by the fact that I keep the house literally quiet most of the time too. That literal and figurative quiet allows me to listen for my inner voice.

I’m going to make the most of my quiet time, keep trying to figure out my answers to those questions, and see what I can do to remain tuned in to my gut even when I’m not alone. I currently subject myself to a certain amount of mental chatter via social media, but I’m considering cutting down in order to be more deliberate with my energy; no decisions made yet on this point.

car theft

Our summer was marred by the theft and subsequent destruction of our car. Someone came in the back door of our house in the early evening and stole a handful of keys that were right there, including the car keys. I experienced a bunch of difficult emotions, chiefly anger, but in the end it didn’t hit me as hard as I (and others) expected. It was too much to process at once (similar to grief in that way) and I was concerned that perhaps I was at risk of burying the emotions rather than processing them. But I’m able to think about it now and while it’s still a bit sensitive, I don’t feel the need to avoid it, so I guess I’m OK.

Despite various anxieties I experienced that made it difficult to buy a new car, I did buy one, and I like it. Rather than getting a colour that would blend in, I got red because it’s my favourite colour, and despite the fact that some people judge drivers of red cars. Rather than getting a standard licence plate I got a personalised plate because it makes me happy to see it. It was an exercise in determining what I like and want, and prioritising my own pleasure.

I still have some anger, sadness and frustration about this episode, but I trust that it will ease over time and that giving it some attention today will help that process. We’ve taken some steps already for increased security and I’ll give some thought to some others, all with the goal of keeping my response reasonable and proportionate and not turning into an angry misanthropist in a walled compound.

looking forward

I’ve spent a lot of time over the holidays planning, which is unlike me. But I think I’m ready for planning and strategizing now in a way that I wasn’t before, thanks partly to the meditation I’ve been doing. (One of my common intrusive thoughts while meditating is my to-do list, so it would be helpful if I gave it its own dedicated time.)

This process of listening to my gut and planning has given me a clearer idea of what I want to do with this blog going forward. Having realised and accepted that I still have unresolved issues around sexuality, I want to work on those and I’m going to try harnessing the power of memes to give me a kick in the pants to get that stuff done 🙂

 

F4Thought

20 thoughts on “reflecting and looking forward

  1. Terrible what happened with the theft, and the violation is just as bad as the property I’m sure. But glad things are mostly looking up for you from multiple angles! Wonderful symbolism in your photo and what a beautiful subject, I may add 😍

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    1. The sense of violation was there but was surprisingly mild. Glad you like the photo – this is one I did for Sinful Sunday some time ago (photo links to the original post). I browsed my archive for a photo to illustrate this post and this one seemed perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I very much hope we have some future prompts that can help with exploring some of the things you’d like to write about, I think this is a great post and despite having a lot of buzzing in your head, which I can totally relate to you, there’s a lot of insight and thoughtfulness surrounding your own sense of being so I suspect your future posts will be interesting reads. Thank you for sharing for F4T and we can’t wait to have you back x

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    1. Thanks kindly, Floss. I’m sure there will be future prompts that will tie in well with this project, and I look forward to contributing again. Thanks also for selecting this post as one of the top 3 this week!

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    1. Thanks for reading. I’m working on a little project and it seems to be coming together well. Cross your fingers that I continue to find time and energy for it!

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  3. I read your post the day you wrote it but didn’t have time to comment. I wanted to say so much so waited til I had the time.
    I am such a believer in listening to your gut. Instinct wise but also nutritionally. And I too had the same thing happen to me years ago when I changed my diet to try and alleviate the symptoms of some food intolerances. It was like a revelation to me. My mind, body and spirit felt so much better. I don’t always follow that diet now but I do know if I get too tired etc that I just need to restrict a few food stuffs for a few days – like you say 3 – and I begin to feel a difference.
    I too adore the quiet. I can go all day without any particular noise in my world apart from ones that can’t be avoided and these are usually those I like – the rain on the windows etc.
    So glad to see you on F4T and look forward to your writing in 2020
    May x

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    1. It’s amazing what a difference diet can make, even when all the food in question is already ‘healthy’. (I’ve had difficulty explaining my sensitivities to some people. “But fruit is good for you!” they’ll say. Well, yeah, nutrient-wise. but it also causes my gut bacteria to freak out. *shrug* Everyone’s body is a bit different.)

      I get a bit of traffic noise here but it’s almost like wind or water. The noise is rarely the jangly sort, so that’s good.

      I certainly hope I can continue to carve out time to write and participate!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry about the keys. That’s an awful feeling. Congratulations on the new car and vanity plates😁 I’m glad thing seem to be on a good track for you and the new year.😎

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  5. I like the quiet too. I’m not one for background noise unless it’s music while I’m cleaning. I am content to sit in the quiet. Sorry to hear about the car, what a violation. Congrats on the new car and plates.

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  6. FODMAP is a new one to me, though a quick Google looks like it may be worth trying. Controlling diet along with meditation is usually a good way of centering yourself and learning to take notice of the little things that can make so much difference.

    Yuck with the car theft, though it sounds like you came through it well.

    melody 🌹

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    1. Research on FODMAPs is still pretty new, but it’s grounded in science (unlike so much other dietary advice and trends). Monash University is where it started, so they’re a reliable source of info. I also recommend Patsy Catsos – her most recent book is The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook.

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