37 Lessons

I needed to revisit this today. Maybe you need it (or even one of the 37?) too.

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

371. Humility and vulnerability are key to leadership.

2. On this green earth, I will always be a work in progress.

3. There are so many more shades of gray than I ever imagined.

4. Grace, grace, grace: be generous with it, both for myself and for others.

5. Love is messy.

6. Carefully choose which hills are worth dying on.

7. Quit pretending like you don’t have issues and start working through them.

8. Everyone has issues.

9. I am good company, on my own.

10. “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” (Anne Lamott)

11. Boundaries are amazing.

12. Get a great mattress.

13. Required reading: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

14. Create a list of your guiding principles; refer to this often. I keep mine posted in my office and perpetually ask myself how I am exhibiting the four characters I’ve named most important in…

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10 Thoughts I Had Today

I wish I could have this.

Unfortunately, I think it would look more like this.

nicktran

Oh I miss New Girl.

Anyway, I feel like I have a thousand things to say.

  1. When I can tell a guy online is not a good fit for me, I try to make him believe I’m not a good fit for him. I kind of hate that I do this. Bro has no goals, no grammar, no grace, and I’ll be like, “I just don’t think I’m what you’re looking for.” As if.
  2. The flowchart for me is sleep well–>feel good–>be healthy–>lose weight. I’m in that space between feeling good and actually being healthy right now. Losing weight still feels far away, and in some ways, that’s okay. I told my therapist on Monday that I have to like myself at this weight because even if I lose weight, my worth cannot come from that. It doesn’t. So I am learning.
  3. A lot of days I feel like I’m juggling a 46 things and 43.5 of them are rolling around on the floor.
  4. I am a great advocate for myself. I am such an active participant in my own healing. My psychiatrist remarked on that this morning, and know what? He’s so right. I am in tune with where I’m at and what I need and where I want to be, and I can articulate those things. I had the bad sense to announce to my psychiatrist upon meeting him, “I have a pretty good handle on what I need,” but by the end of the intake he said, “I’ll admit that I get scared when someone starts a meeting by saying she knows what’s up, but … you really do know.” Yes, I really do.
  5. I haven’t always. And that’s okay too.
  6. I’ve been working on Salt Novel since fall 2013, and I think I finally named the island where it takes place. These things are delicate and nuanced.
  7. I burned my left hand with bacon grease on Monday night. Since then, bacon and I have made up and gotten engaged.
  8. You realize what a baby you are when you’re nursing your first-degree burn while on the phone with your dad who tells you about the time he accidentally had a gasoline fire on his own hand and how just last month your mom got immediate blisters on her fingertips from her own incident.
  9. It still hurt. So bad. Like, so bad. It made me feel, of all things, lonely.
  10. I really like my job lately. A lot. It’s been pretty stressful, honestly, and my doctor today asked if I liked it, almost as if he were hoping I would say, “You know what? I don’t!” and then would storm out to quit my job and start something much easier. I’m not gonna lie and say there haven’t been moments over the last sixteen years when I haven’t wanted to do that. But I don’t right now. I feel like I’m good at what I do, and I love being in proximity to young minds and hearts. They are so earnest
    I guess I only had ten things to say, not a thousand. But that’s just for tonight. I have 990+ ahead of me. Let me now if any of these struck a bell of any sort with you, and then please chime in yourself. It helps to know people are out there.

    XO Jackie

Hi, I’m Jackie. Nice to meet me.

abundance

Friends.

This is exciting.

Moreso for me than for you, I’m sure. 🙂

But I have felt like MYSELF lately. For the first time since AT LEAST fall 2017.

I feel creative, ambitious, productive, happy. Not 100% of the time, but with consistency. I still have hard days, pain and aches, depressive bouts, lazy streaks, loneliness– I mean, of course I do! This is life. But the good is outweighing the bad, and I’m so grateful.

I’ve been learning so much about myself too. Yes, I drank the Enneagram Kool-Aid, even though at first I was sooooo annoyed by it. But as I learn more about my motives and fears as a Four, I am having to confront funky parts of me. Like the fact that Fours have a tendency to make things bigger/sadder/more romantic than they were, thus forcing ourselves to be melancholic over things that perhaps don’t deserve it. (See all my One That Got Away posts.) I am not trying to change that part of me. I am just trying to notice it.

Another thing I’ve been talking about with my therapist is finding healthy productivity. I want to be driven and productive out of excitement and creativity and the desire to be challenged and to grow. I don’t want to be productive out of fear. Some people love that idea of “Live today like it’s your last day,” but for someone like me, that just incites this frenetic energy of trying to do ALL THE THINGS (and especially finish creative projects) before I get hit by a bus.

I want my driving factor to be … well, calling. I am writing because this is my calling; I am writing because it is meaningful and fulfilling to me. When I write because I am fearful, it becomes unhealthy so quickly. What I write might still be beautiful, but I’m left feeling depleted and scared and out-of-time when I should be feeling filled. 

I want to write out of abundance, if and when I can. Sometimes I may have to fight for that. I have been fighting for it lately, and OH, it is so worth it.

Saturday:Thoughts

The things that are on my mind:

  • the man who reentered my life last Saturday, said, “I think of you often and miss how honest and easy you are to talk to,” chatted with me for hours, promised we’d get coffee, then disappeared Sunday
  • The One That Got Away (not the same as the first guy)
  • My curling wand that looks naughty (but my hair looks great!)
  • I’VE BEEN WRITING
  • AND LOVING IT
  • The EMDR therapy that has gotten me back to writing and loving it
  • Keto
  • Queer Eye season 3
  • Cute stationery
  • Adulting crap like finances
  • Poetry by Wallace Stevens

How about you?

Normal [for OCD]

normalforocdIt is like the earworm chorus to a song that makes you sad: “Is this normal with OCD?”

Is this to be expected with OCD? Do others with OCD experience this? Am I going through something unique here or is this normal? Is this normal? Is this normal?

So, first off, as always, let me remind you that I’m not an OCD expert or a therapist of any kind; I’m just an OCD survivor who knows an awful lot about it and has talked to a lot of sufferers over the last decade.

Secondly, while I do hear common experiences among a lot of OCD sufferers, I sometimes hear the opposite (or quite different) experiences from others. What I’m trying to say is that NO ONE IS ALONE, but also there’s not just ONE narrative either. Picture it as an OCD mansion where there are many rooms, but they are all full. There is no room where there is just one lonely being. We are in this together.

The list below has a two-fold purpose: first, for those suffering to “put a voice” to their experience. I want you to see that what you’re thinking and feeling is normal and common enough that it’s on a list. I remember the first time I read Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser, I literally underlined line after line because this book was putting my own thoughts right onto a page. A woman I had never met had an experience similar enough to mine that her work of fiction felt like I could have been the main character. That meant everything to me. It showed me some universal themes of OCD. It showed me I was not alone.

Secondly, this list is for non-sufferers, because it’s important for you to see how debilitating this disorder is, and perhaps it will help you to recognize symptoms in others.

ALL OF THIS IS NORMAL FOR OCD:

I doubt I even have OCD.

What if I really just believe X, am Y, or enjoy Z– and it’s not OCD at all?

I dread things or people I used to enjoy.

I avoid things or people I used to enjoy. 

I will feel perfectly normal for weeks and then suddenly completely sick and anxious and scared and awful. It comes and goes. 

The thoughts are worse in the morning. 

The thoughts are worse at night. 

I had one thought about homosexuality and now it’s all I can think about. Does that mean I’m gay?

If I fixate on someone I think is beautiful, does that mean I like him/her?

My body reacts to things it shouldn’t.

My body reacts to things I wish it wouldn’t. 

Does a bodily reaction mean [this obsessive thought] is true?

I can no longer experience normal crushes.

I can’t enjoy crushes. 

When something good happens, something in me finds a way to sabotage it.

I think I’m not allowed to enjoy good things.

I will find a reason I should not enjoy good things.

I will turn the good thing into something bad or wrong.

I get uncomfortable feelings and sometimes I feel like I want them, but I don’t.

I used to get so triggered and anxious that I would think X must be true. But now I don’t get as triggered and anxious, so I think maybe it’s because X is true. Is X true?

I’m exceptionally aware of [blank]. This must mean [something bad].

“Something” just keeps telling me that I’m [whatever it is].

I have always wanted X, but lately “something” is telling me I want Y, even though I don’t want it and it makes me feel sick. 

My problem last month was X. Now I think I’ve sorted most of that out, but the problem has shape-shifted slightly into Y, and now all I can think about is Y.

Am I dating the right person?

Am I married to the right person? 

I love my significant other so much, but sometimes I feel like maybe I don’t. Do I?

I feel like I should break up with my significant other because I’m so unsure. 

I keep thinking back on my past and stuff that I never worried about before now is plaguing me. 

I think on my past and am not sure if I’m remembering things right. I’m so focused on rebuilding that memory correctly because then it will prove [something important] to me.

I think on my past and remember something I did, and now I’m wondering if I liked it.

Now I’m actually not freaking out anymore; does that mean I’ve subconsciously accepted those thoughts?

If I feel better, am I actually better, or have I just given in to that belief?

I thought I was just accepting that I have OCD, but now I think maybe I was accepting the bad thoughts.

I’m scared ERP therapy will actually make me the thing I am dreading. 

I’m scared ERP therapy will reveal I am the thing I am dreading.

Sometimes it feels SO REAL. 

OCD friends, what else would you add to this list?

 

 

*Book-Shaped*

Erin Morgenstern, author of the bestselling novel The Night Circus (and one of my all-time favorites), has a book coming out in November of this year.

The Night Circus came out in 2011. The Starless Sea in 2019. There’s been a long gap.

love how she puts it on her personal blog:

This has been a long, difficult process but I wanted to get it just right no matter how long it took. This book existed in bits and pieces for a long time and some of the pieces stayed and others changed or wandered away entirely and it refused to be book-shaped for a very long time and then one day it was. I’m still kind of surprised that it’s finally reached this point.

A lot of this is how I feel about Salt Novel. I want to get it just right now matter how long it takes. 

I have a feeling it can be a really special story. There are elements of that magic right now– they catch my eye like the glint off a glass wind chime; I hear the lyrics when it gets really, really quiet.

On Colbert, Bradley Cooper said of his movie A Star is Born, “I had the luxury of time,” and I’ve been letting that settle in my heart. I so badly want to PRODUCE and PUBLISH and DO and ENTERTAIN, but I am choosing to be grateful for the luxury of time to get this book just exactly right.

I have Paula Munier’s book at home, Writing with Quiet Hands, and I need to start it over again. Quiet hands. Quiet heart. Luxury of time. Get it exactly right. Make it special.

Thanks for listening to my heart.

Watch at 6:40 🙂

Reclaiming

My main goal for February was to survive, and I’m nearly there!

February, despite being the shortest month, is probably the hardest for me– though December is a worthy competitor. In MN, February is typically freezing (true this year!) and snowy (ditto) and so busy in my work life (yup).

If you are familiar with Spoon Theory, just know that February uses all my spoons and borrows from January and March.

But my hardest events are over now. (Not sure the snow is though!) My house is clean. I’m freshly showered, I had a warm meal, it’s 9:10 PM and I’m already in jammies and ready to do a little freehand writing.

I rarely do my writing by hand anymore … except when I’m afraid.

And, well, I am.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Writing in a junky composition notebook is a great way to fool the scared writer part of one’s brain. It feels so laidback, unofficial, non-threatening.

I have been doing EMDR again, and I go back on Monday. It has been unreal to unpack the last 4.5 years, and I feel so grateful I get to reframe it all and reclaim writing as my joy, not my fear.

Xo

Spy

If there is a line where the other side is Creativity, I feel like I’ve been camping on that border.

Gaining strength for the adventure.

So ready in some ways. Just making sure in others.

I have actually made a few small forages across the line. Short trips.

The colors there are so brilliant. Oh, and it’s spring.