.:Deliciously Motivated: The Diary of Arijah Ankh Khalid-Zyn:.
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January 16th, 2022
Home is where the existential crisis is
The recognition of patterns, be they behavioral or otherwise, is necessary to make any desired change. Discovering those patterns is like detective work; as clues are discovered, other information emerges, until eventually, you find the motive.
Looking for those clues can take you to some pretty dark and seedy places. Thankfully, Jason has been my partner through all of this, and even more, thankfully, he has a very strong disposition and one hell of an analytical brain.
I guess it was about 12 years ago, an associate of mine suggested that I try something he called "brain mapping"; a kind of neurofeedback, only without the electrodes and brain scans. He had been through some pretty intense situations and this system was helping him to "take the wheel." What he was doing was Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. I figured what the hell, I'll give it a go.
I had already been working with a Qlipphotic system to get to the inner workings of my character and had found a lot of understanding through that, but I wanted something more. Jung had already taught me so much about inner archetypes and the "shadow self", I figured that CBT would be another flashlight in the dark spaces of my unconscious mind.
It was. It's given me the ability to fully participate in these discoveries, by not just being a viewer, but a participant.
With standard therapy, you let someone else take the wheel, somewhat. You kind of sit in the chair and let the mental health professional ask the questions, you answer what you want to, maybe get some brain pills, and then go home until next time.
That just isn't for me.
I have been doing my own self-therapy for a very long time now; partly because finding a proper therapist was difficult, and a good one can be far away and very expensive. I'm the kind of person who has to see the math. I need to see the root of me, and I have to know that I'm controlling the outcomes. My brain, my habits, my activities...my choice. No brain pills.
Sometimes, a detective needs to call in a specialist. They have all of the puzzle pieces, but there are a few things that don't quite add up. That's where I was about a year ago. I had come to a plateau in what I was able to find and needed a "specialist" to look at what I had gathered and help me formulate the big picture.
I was lucky enough to find a husband and wife team. One is a therapist and the other a nutritionist. Together, they've been able to help me place a few of those puzzle pieces.
It was Gandhi who said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
Emotions become thoughts. Thoughts become habits. Habits become character. Character is what I wake up with every morning.
So, how was my emotion creating the physical issues that were now presenting themselves? The anxiety levels increased, my moods were either extreme highs or extreme lows, my eating was higher carb and sugar, my activity levels decreased, my weight increased.
Through the years I've been able to do some pretty insane inner shadow work. The more layers I peeled back, the more I discovered, and each new discovery led to another question and another discovery.
Sometimes, you think you know, but you really don't...until you feel it.
My emotions are connected to my activity levels, and because I have long associated activity levels with familiarity, be they people or place. Those activity levels have become stunted.
I've been sad for a long time because I missed my "home".
We moved way out to Tennessee 13 years ago. I love it here, but there were little blocks here and there. We even moved back to Maryland for a few months to see if that would change anything. It did somewhat, but it was mainly to tie up loose ends. It turned out to be more expensive than we had hoped. People were different, the vibe had changed drastically, and I missed my forest...so we left.
"Home". What exactly is that? Is it a place? a person? A moment in time?
For me, it was a mood. A safety net based on familiarity.
When everything started changing, I just couldn't keep up; death of loved ones, guilt over past decisions, pains from the past, hormone levels disrupted due to menopause, physical pain, financial issues, aging parents...and to top it off a brand new environment deep in the forest.
I became unhinged.
I have long believed in myself. I have trusted my body to let me know what I need and when I need it. When I doubt it, I get into trouble. I know that when I am out of balance it is a body in distress and all of these feelings of depression and anxiety, the pain...jeez....just so much.
It's a lot more difficult when the medical folks you trust end up dropping the ball. "You're too young for menopause", "stop stressing", "lose weight". Yes, but no, but some of that?
Ups, downs, puzzle pieces. I be good, then I tank. Why?
So, why am I feeling like shit? Why am I sleeping a lot again? Why am I not being able to fully be consistent...just little bits here and there. What happened?
Thankfully, the depression has lifted, but I realized that I was left with fragments of sadness.
The sadness is triggered by feelings of insecurity. When I feel insecure, I start to get scared. Fear gives way to sadness because of a lack of familiarity of what is and isn't "home" in past times of need for comfort, and to keep from falling deep and dark, I end up increasing my stimulants. That is usually cigarettes and coffee.
The stimulants create anxiety, and my body needs to reset, and therefore, the need for sleep. I get tired because my mind is overwhelmed, and as a result of that, my body hurts. The pain causes me to be less active and I become more static. This "static" ends up in me being more introverted, and not wanting to track upstairs to make healthy meals consistently... shower consistently, or even leave the house.
I feel sadder because I'm not able to do the things I want to do, and fall little by little back into a loop.
Multiply this by not having a reliable vehicle, not having much money, and currently living in my parent's basement, well, you see where I am at right now.
When I am in that mode, I tend to try to offset it by doing more of what I can under these circumstances, which is picking up more projects on the computer. I come up with ideas for art, books, website, etc. Anything that I can do, so that I am being productive...when I am hurting, without the things that give me comfort..."home".
What happens as a result of taking on too much is that I end up leaving things unfinished, as I wander off from one creative project to another and get overwhelmed. I get overwhelmed and then get emotional about it, and the cycle begins again.
I have trouble losing weight because my activity levels and eating behaviors aren't consistent. They aren't consistent because of my living arrangement. My living arrangement isn't what I want it to be because I can't work. I can't work because of my current location, lack of transportation, and physical pain. Physical pain is because of early-onset degenerative arthritis and spondylosis, brought on by long hours (16 hour days for 9 years), in desk work because of my emotional instability, and having to do "something", so I focused on my art.
All of the sitting, lack of activity, and stress led to high blood pressure, so I'm on the pills for that.
So...there it is. the cycle of self-destruction.
So, I'm "homesick". But again, what is "home"?
For me, it is the familiarity and comfort of old things. It's people that know me and love me for who I am and respect me as a person. It's memories around every turn in the road. It's the little scuff marks, a squeaky step, a repaired window. Its smells and sounds and all of the things I grew up with...all gone now, except for what's left in my own memories.
I guess it's no different for anyone, really. Things come and grow and progress. People come and go, change direction and sometimes die.
I believe my "homesick" is in actuality, a midlife crisis.
According to choosingtherapy.com., "A midlife crisis is characterized by the realization that one’s lifespan is likely halfway complete, which can bring on existential questions related to one’s identity, purpose, as well as deep reflection regarding the life that one has chosen and may wish to have, moving forward."
This is characterized by:
1. Depression or Increased Depressive Behaviors
2. Reflection on Deep Questions or Preoccupation With Existential Concerns
3. Sleep Problems
4. Sense of Boredom or Apathy
5. Contemplating a Big Change
6. Fixating on “Days Gone By”
7. Desire to Change Physical Appearance
8. Extreme Feelings of “Overwhelm”
9. Emotional Volatility
10. Changes in Menstrual Cycle
Well damn, if I haven't checked all of those boxes.
They go on to say "Causes of a midlife crisis in women might be catalyzed by biological changes or by relational shifts that are abundant in this period of life, such as changes in professional roles, increased caregiving responsibilities, the death of a parent, and relocation of children. Many women experience loneliness due to being uncertain about their identity." and events that can bring about a midlife crisis in a woman include:
- Increased “crossover stressors” from multiple life roles
- Hormonal changes related to perimenopause or menopause
- Feeling lonely in their marriage or relationship
- Identity changes
Loss of fertility
- Relationship concerns like divorce
- Family changes like empty nesting
- Death of loved ones
- Caregiving for aging parents
- Caregiving for children
- Adult children returning home
- Career disconnect or apathy
- Concerns about leaving behind a “legacy”.
I can see myself in more than a few of those. I say all of the time "legacy is everything".
I can also see my actions to therapy and self-care in their "how to deal" section, so I guess I'm doing "something" right.
The website goes on to suggest that we use the term "midlife movement" instead of "midlife crisis".
I agree. Sometimes, we lose sight of the fact that our majik is working, that our process is evolving into something better, or that we are growing into our most empowered selves. Emotions, hormone fluctuations, and other big changes tend to run an awful lot of interference.
If I had known for certain twelve years ago that was I was experiencing was hormonal changes, I might not have ended up going into a "midlife crisis", but who knows. Now that I know for certain what it is, I don't feel so bad about it anymore. I have had a hell of a life. I've experienced a lot of things, learned so much, and done an incredible amount of stuff.
I don't want to slow down, I just want to actively manage my time and emotions to get the most out of my life, for whatever amount of time I get out of the deal, yanno?
I have to remember that I wanted this. Not the midlife crisis, but the sacrifice to myself for myself. I didn't want the "old life" for myself or my children. I wanted better than to live in a place that was dying. I wanted to live in the forest, build a beautifully imperfect and whimsically enchanted little cottage castle, surrounded by loved ones, cats, forest critters, art, and pumpkins. I wanted more than anything to have my own little witchy shop in the woods with the man of my dreams, and you know what? I have that. He and I are building our home, albeit, with world events, it's been slow-moving. The pause has given us a chance to take the time we needed to reflect on what we wanted and what we didn't. It's given us time to come up with the best ways to make what we want with what we have. It's allowed time to help and to be helped. I wanted the peace of mind and spirit that I have only ever found in the forest, and with Maryland growing way too big for its britches...when Mom and Dad invited us to move here, we wanted to.
It's been up and it's been down. It's been illuminating and horrifying.
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