From Hiding and Feeling Unwanted to Living and Expressing Fully

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Any kind of mental disorder is still taboo in our society, unfortunately, and the result is that those that need to speak up and reach out most end up being those that hide and isolate most. Having a mental disorder myself, OCD, dermatillomania – a self-harm disorder, I know from first hand experience what it is to be alone with intense emotional baggage and how big and overwhelming it can become within the experience of isolation. I stand here now as an individual that has begun to take self-responsibility for my own personal healing and correcting, and would like to share about learning how to come out of the hiding and isolation of OCD, to emerge from hiding within self into Life and living.

Not understanding what is going on within self, not knowing how to manage it, and feeling like it is coming from anywhere but self had, especially as a young child, created a world and reality that seemed cruel and harsh. My inner experience felt like a sort of inward spiral, a self-perpetuating black hole that sucked me into isolation and hiding. Within this, one of the most prominent experiences for me was feeling I needed care, and needed people that I trusted to come in to my world and connect with me on a deep level to assist and support me to navigate my experiences, and to find a way to bring me out, and to see and realize another way to live and experience life.

This continued on into adulthood and influenced how I felt about my innate value and worth, as I had over time taken it personally that no one could see what I was going through. It’s ironic that in hiding and isolating myself within and as the disorder, and presenting a fake front as my ‘social self’, I was sending out the message that I am fine and don’t need anyone, while the reality was one where all I really wanted was to be saved.

What I didn’t realize until recently was the fact that everything I longed for from others, where I wanted others to reach out to me, to pull me through, to help me, to save me, to make me feel good, to make me feel loved and wanted – all of it was only there because I had never learned how to give it to myself or how to be that for myself. Even when I realized that that is what I had to do, I still had to walk a process of making it real, of really doing it for me.

What I had not been shown, seen or realized as a child was my responsibility to reach out and ask, to invite others in, to show and reveal what it was that I was experiencing. I felt alone in an unfriendly place. I felt abandoned and left to fend for myself. Without learning how to take self-responsibility and unknowingly leaving my needs unanswered in the hands of others, the lack of understanding felt as though I must be doing something wrong, or that there was something innately undeserving about me. Instead of learning how to take self-responsibility, I learned to punish myself through self-harm. I learned to carry a burden of guilt, shame, anxiety and frustration as atonement for unnamed sins I did not understand.

The point that is missed here, and the point that we don’t teach children is this point of self-responsibility within the understanding that no one can change they way you live, the way you experience yourself, the hundreds of little decisions and choices made throughout the day regarding the kind of person you will be towards yourself and others. The truth is that yes – there is medication and drugs that can influence and change the internal experience, but without the understanding and with no life skill development or support teaching us how to manage ourselves and our internal realities, all we are creating is the continuous dependency on factors outside of ourselves to make us feel ‘right’ – all the while, perpetuating low-self esteem, diminished self-worth, self-damning depression, and a lost people looking to everything but themselves to save them.

Through walking a process of self-forgiveness to ease the burden I had been carrying, and to better see what my needs were and also, how to create an independence within my life, I was better able to see how to assist and support myself to walk out of hiding and out of isolation. What I began to do and what I am still working on is how to clearly define and express my needs to others in my world instead of waiting for them to notice or figure them out for me.

There are many things I can do for and by myself as well, in terms of moving myself to do the things I know will support me. Within and as the disorder I have in my life at the moment, I am always walking a fine line between being sucked inward towards hiding and isolation, and battling feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. I have many opportunities throughout the day, moments of choice and decision where I can pick myself up and get myself out and moving instead of staying in (both physically in my house or my room, and emotionally as not speaking up and speaking out). Or if I stay in, to do it in such a way where it is a decision made in awareness, where I have a plan or a structure for myself so that I don’t fall into self-harm and self-sabotage.

For me it starts first with what I can give myself, doing writing and self-forgiveness to investigate my mind and the issues I face, and script out a better way to be, like a blueprint to guide me as I move throughout the day. And then pushing myself to participate in self-supportive activities such as yoga, small gatherings and game nights with friends, or simply going out for coffee with a good book. Anything to pull me out of my mind and into this physical reality where I can see that I am ‘normal’, I’m okay, I can do this.

It has been a process, that is for sure, and one that continues and will continue for as long as I live. But as tough a pill it was to swallow at first, it is only without understanding that taking care of oneself seems like ‘the hard way’. What I have lived and learned is that in stepping up and being there for me, I have eased the burden and actually received from myself and others that which I need to live a better and more fulfilling life.

Some self-forgiveness and self-commitments to consider:

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to look to others to show me my value and my self-worth, instead of seeing and realizing that I have in fact not been showing it to myself, living it for myself, and strengthening it within myself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make decisions throughout my day that tend to cater to my subtle expressions of giving up on myself and calling it ‘relaxing’,  giving in to my addictions and calling it ‘treating myself’ or ‘spoiling myself’, and not living my self-worth and calling it ‘giving myself a break’ – and then wonder why I react to and feel hurt when others do not consider me, instead of seeing and realizing that all that is being mirrored to myself is the ways in which I already do not consider what is best for me in my living actions.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make it someone else’s responsibility to show me my value and worth instead of seeing and realizing that only I can live that as an actual self-creation point, it is not something that can simply be shown to me or experienced as a feeling or emotion, but rather something that I must live for and as myself in many moments and decisions throughout the day in order to give to myself and make it a real, substantial, untouchable, unwavering point of myself that is here within and as me.

I commit myself to stand in awareness in moments of decision throughout the day, where I see which choice/decision/path will contribute to my self-creation as self-value and self-worth, and which will lead to the creation of self-diminishment, self-limitation and self-compromise, and I commit myself to stand as the self trust that I will, in those moments, push myself to chose what is best for myself.

I commit myself to take self-responsibility for my own self-consideration and self-regard, until I see the evidence in my world that I am in fact standing as that for me by seeing that I no longer react and feel hurt when I think and perceive that others are not considering and regarding me.

I commit myself to stand up for myself, and speak up for myself when and as I see that I am being treated less-than I would accept/allow myself to treat another – not in and from an emotional reactive state, but from and as that point of self-regard, self-consideration, self-value and self-worth.

 

Creating My Home as My Internal and External Sanctuary

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Here is a 360 degree view of my room, which I moved into about a year ago. It is within this room that I decided to really apply what I had learned in my last two blogs, and create for myself a sanctuary of sorts. A place to heal, to unwind, to fall apart and put myself back together, to nurture myself and to rest. I went through a process to make this my own space, a process of redefinition and creation, to accompany my process of self-creation.

Some things were gifts, like the chalk board above my computer where I write the living words I am working on, some I brought with me, and some I found close by.
Making a space my own is something I wish I had developed much earlier in my life, as I have moved many, many times throughout my life, often times feeling like I was living in someone else’s space.

Now, I thoroughly enjoy setting up my space in a way that best suites my needs, a place where I feel comfortable and cozy, where when I walk into it, it feel like I am walking into a warm embrace.

I aim to make my room my safe haven, full of comforts and support. At the same time, I am creating an internal safe haven, so that my internal and external spaces are a reflection of each other.

I must say, my dog Ghost has been a huge help in the creation of cozyness! Wherever he plunks down, he transforms that space into the most homey, welcoming and pleasant spots in my room! Additionally, his company, cuddles, protection and consistency have been huge internal support as well as I had decided to put aside my fears and walk unconditionally into a relationship with him.

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Our personal space, as much as our internal space, is sacred. It is a place we can CREATE, using our capacity as CREATORS, and with our CREATIVE abilities, to support us in many ways and on many levels, to walk a process toward becoming our utmost potential, our best.

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On the front lines of OCD: Bringing PEACE to the war at HOME – Creating my safe space, my sanctuary.

In the photo above, you can see how I have taken steps to create a home environment that is supportive in all ways: I have set myself up in front of the computer to write, which supports me in in my process of taking my authority back from OCD/derma. But because I know that being in front of the computer triggers the OCD, I have put a hair mask on to keep my hands away from my head. The hair mask also nurtures and moisturizes the scalp, which supports me physically as I have scalp psoriasis.

I lit a candle to create a more relaxed and soothing atmosphere to lower anxiety, and I also like the way it smells, so it is a point of  simple enjoyment as well.

The same with the tea, which is filled with healthy ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, honey, lemon, and also chamomile which calms and relaxes. It keeps my hands busy when I get antsy, it tastes good and is warm and comforting.

This calming, soothing, healing and nurturing environment was created by me, in awareness. This is MY CHOICE. It depicts an act of creation rather than an environment of consequence, resulting from the automated behaviour of OCD. This is one step of my journey, bringing my writing to life in practical application.

To read the writing, visit: Feeling ‘At Home’ in My Skin and my Environment and At Home Within Myself – Living the Word ‘Home’

10 things in my room that support me:

1) the turtle a friend gave me to remind me to slow down, accompanied by the tree her son gave me, “my tree” he says, which I must promise to protect.

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2) the salt rock lamp I bought for myself for balance. The colour and presence of the rock to me look like a heart, reminding me of my heart as well as the delicate nature of the living body.

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3) the painting that I chose. To me it is less about what the painting represents and more about the fact that I chose one I like instead of keeping the one that was there before.

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4) the mosaic glass lamp I found in storage. The colours match the colours in the painting, and are colours I have been playing with lately: shades of champagne, golds, browns, ivory, rust and auburn.

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5+6) essential oil diffuser, essential oils, homeopathic ‘rescue remedy’, and ‘cell food’ supplement from the pharmacy. I am exploring the effects of these products on my mind and body, seeing how I can support my body’s comfort, calm and release.

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7) beeswax candles for that firey glow and to clean the air. Calming and soothing and they smell so damn good.

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8) Butterflies above my medicine cabinet, reminding me of transformation, change and growth. My medicine cabinet is full of teas, supplements and creams I use to tend to myself as acts of self-care.

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9) blue tooth speakers to play nice tunes while I work.

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10) living-words chalk board. I take the words on one at a time to incorporate into my living. I take ‘problem’ words, or words I have not been living effectively, and turn them into ‘solution words’, where I redefine them in a way that supports my best.

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At Home Within Myself: Redefining ‘Home’

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From yesterday’s blog:

Home:

Orderly – I have a place for things and I address and tend to all components as necessary.

Safe – it is a safe place/space because as I establish the environment I want to create, such as developing self-acceptance (no judgment) and self-discipline (stopping OCD patterns, keeping everything in order etc), my mistakes, falls and slip-ups are immediately forgiven, and the slate is clean for me to learn from the experience and try again. In my home environment, internal and external, I forgive myself, I learn, I expand.

Directed  – Home is where I prioritize what needs to get done, and I move myself through the tasks. This is Self-direction, where I am the one that assesses my home’s needs – my body as food, water, exercise, relaxation etc… my house as groceries, cleaning, decorating etc… in my home, I push myself to get everything that needs to get done, done.

Self-Forgiveness (releasing past definitions)

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to create a home, both internal and external, that is chaotic, unsafe, and unsupportive of my self-development.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to have not created a stable and supportive home environment because I did not, in the past, take responsibility for myself or my life or important things that need to get done in life, because I expected them to be done for me and I expected to be cared for as I was as a child, and due to this expectation, would look and see things that needed to be directed and tended to, but would instead watch within a feeling of helplessness, as things would slowly enter into chaos and falling behind, within the excuse that ‘I don’t know how to do this’, ‘nobody prepared me for this’, ‘this is the stuff that OTHER people do – the ones that know how – not ME’ – and then when I did step up and begin taking responsibility, I judged myself extensively for not knowing, for stumbling, for having to walk a learning process and not doing it perfect right away.

I commit myself to create for myself an environment of support by identifying the self-destructive behaviour patterns (such as not keeping things tidy and organized, not maintaining a structure, not applying discipline with derma, procrastinating etc…) , forgiving myself, and changing them to patterns of support by scripting out steps that I can apply and live, thus creating a new, different life for myself.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear taking responsibility for myself and my life/world due to thinking/believing/perceiving that I do not know how, because I found it difficult to begin with, and because I accept and allow myself to become overwhelmed and give up, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that it is a step-by-step process that involves baby steps and learning over time.

When and as I see that I am avoiding, procrastinating, supressing (and thus, setting myself up for OCD) due to the experience of overwhelming-ness I create through the thought, idea or belief that “I do not know how” I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself back to stability, by centering myself in my body, and not following the thoughts causing the overwhelming-ness, but simply breathing myself into presence and awareness, and giving myself the time and space to let the overwhelming-ness pass before I am able to start taking the steps towards directing my reality, so that those steps are taken within self-direction and not from a starting point of fear, overwhelming-ness and confusion. I see, realize and understand that actions taken from this starting point will only create more of the same. I gift myself the patience and stability to allow myself to come back out of the mind before proceeding in the physical.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to reflect the chaos of my mind onto my physical environment, blaming that environment for how I feel inside instead of seeing and realizing that the opposite is true, the environment is the consequence and outflow of my internal struggles, and the fact that I hadn’t addressed or taken responsibility for my internal situation caused me to also avoid taking responsibility for my external home environment, causing it to enter into choas.

I commit myself to continue my physical process (changing in the moment, in real time, as applied change), and to also push myself to write myself out more and more, in order to better equip myself to make that real time change.

I commit myself to see and realize that writing clarifies the busy, chaotic mind, and creates a blueprint for me to lead myself when life becomes overwhelming with blurring uncertainty, mind chaos, floating light-headedness, self-damning depression, intense isolation – these words describing the internal experiences I find myself in, within which I find it more difficult to direct myself without support.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel alone and isolated in my home when there was no one taking care of me, instead of seeing and realizing that I was there, and it was myself that was abandoning me because I didn’t have the tools nor the understanding of how to care for and nurture myself, from without and from within, so I just kind of ‘checked out’, leaving myself floundering and falling into habits and patterns because they were all I knew.

I commit myself to push myself to step up for myself, and tend to things that need to get done, to be there for me, to care for myself, to nurture myself, and to support myself to create the best possible environment for myself to exist within, like a sanctuary, both within and without.

I commit myself to replace self-destructive actions to self-supportive actions (eg: do laundry, make tea or work out for example, instead of allowing for idle time which opens the door to fall into OCD).

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not remain consistent and orderly in my home, but to instead follow the ups and downs of my feelings and emotions, letting things fall apart when the motivation is not there, and doing too much when the motivation IS there.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think and believe that I am dependant on the internal experience of being ‘motivated’ to move myself, and to, within this belief, try to get everything done in those few moments where I do feel this way, without realizing that my actions are coming from a starting point of fear as ‘fearing losing the motivation,’ thus making the statement to myself that I cannot move without first feeling a certain specific way. Within this:

When and as I see that I am waiting for feelings and emotions, such as motivation and fear, to move me, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself back to the process of developing self-authority by reminding myself that it is a process, and sometimes it is a very slow process, and that I am in this moment in a position to take a step, but it is up to me to decide in which direction I want that step to be taken. I push myself to take the step in the direction towards self-authority, which is self-expansion, which is honouring and nurturing self, thus creating an environment of support within self and in my external environment.

 

Feeling ‘At Home’ in My Skin and my Environment

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I’ve moved around a lot in my life, and every time I would arrive at a new location I would have projections about what it would feel like to live there, and I would hold an optimistic outlook on how my life would be and how I would make this new place my home. I would settle in over time, but as time passed I would never quite be able to create this feeling I was looking for, the feeling of being ‘at home’.

The repeating cycle that would occur is that the new apartment would become messy and disorganized and financial and other stresses would inevitably arise and plant their roots in my mind and thus be reflected back to me by my environment. Soon most things in the house would cause a negative reaction in me, such as anxiety for example, as I would see things I was neglecting or unfinished projects I would judge myself for having abondoned.  Slowly, over time I would lose my authority in the situation, as I would lose authority over myself and my actions, and this unfortunately leads to a lack of order and direction,  which created an environment that is not conducive to healing, growing or expanding. This environment is actually more conducive to perpetuating dermatillomania, wherein I become the product of the environment I have created, instead of the environment becoming the product of me as I create myself into someone that is striving to meet their utmost potential, which includes overcoming dermatillomania.

These aforementioned negative effects could be associated with having OCD, although I am certain people without OCD have experienced this as well. For me, with dermatillomania, the home becomes ‘unsafe’, in a way. In the above scenario, things I see in the home create an underlying overwhelming-ness within me, and become triggers and soon bathrooms and mirrors become unsafe places for me to go because of the effects of having a BRFD (body-focused repetitive disorder). It is not an environment of comfort and support, rather, through my abdicating myself to this behaviour, I set myself up for failure and self-abuse.

And so in this blog I’ve taken up looking at this word ‘home’, and I have decided (i.e. not the disorder deciding) that it is time for me to decide how I am going to re-define the word ‘home’. This way, I can apply that definition into my daily living, thus creating a living word for myself, wherein slowly over time, one word at a time, I will create a ‘living vocabulary’ and thus, a new life for myself on My Terms – not the terms of the disorder.

The word home, a defined in the dictionary, means:

  1. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household:

Informal – a place where an object is kept.

Sounding out the words (what hidden words or phrases can I see within the word?)

HOnor ME –  (home is a place where I honour myself, and my internal/external environment should reflect that)

HOne in on ME –  (Home is a place that I know in the utmost detail, and when attention is needed somewhere, I hone in on it. If something requires attention and is not getting done, I first hone in on me – my mind – to check why am I not moving myself to tend to the task)

HarmOny in ME ( Home is a place where I create as little friction as possible, where events and play-outs are directed by me in a way that creates them to be beneficial to me, supporting and nurturing my growth and development).

HOusing ME ( Home is the physical location that is housing me, whether it is in my body or my house, and it therefore requires to be physically maintained: kept clean, tidy, organized, well presented, and practical for me).

I like how in the ‘sounding out’ of the word I see a focus on ‘me’, before only considering the physical location, because this way home can be wherever I am. The dictionary definition states that a home is the place where one lives ‘permanently’. This can be complicated for someone in my situation who has for so long been living temporarily in different locations. If I were to limit myself and my experience to the dictionary’s definition, then I may react by feeling things like lost, homeless and self-pitying, because, according to the dictionary definition, I don’t have a’ home’! This can potentially be disempowering, because it’s important to have a place and a space within which to grow and be grounded, and without one I feel ungrounded and like I have no place. This is the kind of potential consequence of not fully investigating the words we are living and defining ourselves according to.

I would like to instead Empower myself by creating my own definition for the word home. This new definition is not just a physical location; it is a living and a doing, internal and external. ‘Home’ is actually who and how I am within myself, and the physical location is simply an extension of myself, so that by extension, it also becomes my ‘home’.

Home:

Orderly – I have a place for things and I address and tend to all components as necessary.

Safe – it is a safe place/space because as I establish the environment I want to create, such as developing self-acceptance (no judgment) and self-discipline (stopping OCD patterns, keeping everything in order etc), my mistakes, falls and slip-ups are immediately forgiven, and the slate is clean for me to learn from the experience and try again. In my home environment, internal and external, I forgive myself, I learn, I expand.

Directed  – Home is where I prioritize what needs to get done, and I move myself through the tasks. This is Self-direction, where I am the one that assesses my home’s needs – my body as food, water, exercise, relaxation etc… my house as groceries, cleaning, decorating etc… in my home, I push myself to get everything that needs to get done, done.