It's been days since my last post and I feel terrible for not writing, BUT! - the reason for the lack of posting is a positive one: I've been SOCIAL. As in, spending time with people and not being such a round-the-clock hermit. It's been nice.
I often say that I feel alone, and I think I need to clarify that a little: I know logically that I'm not alone, that I have wonderful and caring people by my side whom I love deeply. When I say "I feel alone," I'm referring to it in an emotional and mental context - my depression makes me feel isolated and withdrawn, a sticky web that I get tired of struggling with so instead I resign to hang there, stuck. Alone.
Sometimes, though, I do fight myself free of that tangled web. I've been working a lot on being present, of focusing on the moment instead of the past or future, and I'm getting better at it. I try to ignore the negative thoughts in my mind and instead take more chances, say yes more often, release more worry. For example, on Saturday a couple of friends asked me along to the beach with them. My first thought was "Oh, fuck no," and possible excuses immediately began running through my mind: don't feel well, don't have a bathing suit, too tired, I have to clean the apartment. Too insecure, too ugly, not suitable for public exposure. Just the thought of stepping anywhere near a beach - a beach, full of thin tanned bodies and more bare skin than sand - got my panic rising. No nonono no no no.
My fight-or-flight response was kicking in strong and every pore of my body was screaming for flight but - almost because of how adamant my inner protests were - I said yes. I don't own a bathing suit (I haven't bought one in years) so I threw on a light maxi dress and joined them. The beach itself is a small one on the shores of Lake Champlain so it wasn't as crowded as I was fearing, and once we spread out our towels and cracked open our beers (nonalcoholic for me - still sober!), I relaxed. It turned out to be a great time, something I would have completely missed out on had I stayed home, and that both scared and excited me.
This past week has been SO quality in terms of freeing myself from the aloneness. I spent a lot of time with others, meaningful and happy time: we made arts and crafts, went to the lake, had a Womens' Super Bowl Party (order a bunch of pizza, wings, and bread sticks, but instead of sports, you're watching a Lifetime movie starring John Stamos), went out for ice cream, visited friends, gone to dinner, went out at night.. things that sound so innocuous but are huge for me because I've been so folded into myself lately. I've been doing things with just myself, too, like taking walks, going to the library, and visiting the new bookstore downtown.
Things aren't perfect - I'm still giving in to my tendencies to isolate more often than not - but I'm making progress in changing that. I've really got to just push myself out my front door because when I get myself out there, I usually have a great time. It's that initial push that's so hard, though, like jumping into a cold pool. I have to either be coaxed or not think about it at all - just take the plunge.
All of these seemingly mundane or common little interactions have proven excellent practice for my being comfortable and at ease in the moment. I am loosening the shackles, so to speak, and ENJOYING myself, enjoying being around other people. It's like riding a bike for the first time in a while - it's a little shaky, but eventually it starts to come back to you.
Some pictures from the past week: