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[personal profile] scarlettina
So one of the concepts we deal with in DBT is "willfulness." It's the idea that you are not participating effectively in the world as it is, or that you're not doing something you know needs to be done to move toward a goal. When we say "in the world as it is," we're talking about radically accepting reality: if it's raining, then it's raining and there's nothing you can do about that if you don't like it. (That's the mildest of examples. A more realistic one might be if someone is terminally ill, there's nothing you can do about the illness; you have to accept it. Denial is willfulness.) You have to accept it--not deny it or argue about it. Only then can you move into "willingness," which allows you to find your way to making a commitment, first to accepting that which feels unacceptable and then making a choice to do what needs to be done and doing it.

The last few days have been challenging. I started a meditation practice. I started an inner child visualization practice. I continued to journal in my DBT journal, which I won't be sharing here. I did these things along with my DBT homework and mindfulness practices. I was taking my medications regularly. Somewhere over the weekend, something in me got willful and I stopped pretty much everything. I tried to meditate; I had no focus. The inner child visualization just stopped. I stopped keeping the daily mindfulness journal that's part of DBT. I stopped taking my medications. At the same time, I discovered that my cat Sophie had a giant abscess that would have to be removed; she went off to the vet yesterday for surgery.

This morning, I had a therapy appointment and everything sort of crashed.

I didn't have my diary card with me. Then I had to admit that I stopped all of these things: meds, meditation, mindfulness and so on. And then we got digging into why. The answer was simple and devastatingly difficult all at once. I was taking care of myself, and I suddenly got skeptical about the idea that I was worthy of that kind of self-care. I'd even started thinking about going back to Weight Watchers. So what did I do? I made myself sick eating badly yesterday. Literally sick. I got three hours of sleep last night because I felt so physically awful and I was so worried about Sophie.

That not taking care of myself, that skepticism about me being worthy of self care, was willfulness. I was not participating effectively in the world as it is, a world in which I am worthy of that kind of self care, a world in which it's important for me to be healthy so I can function properly and can move forward willingly. We talked about where these ideas were first fostered inside me, we talked about how much care taking of others I've done over the last few years, we talked about how all that care taking made it easy for me to put aside my self care, allowed me not to examine my attitude about self care and my worthiness of self care and the love needed to maintain it.

I called in to work sick today because I felt so awful and was so tired. I knew I'd be having to care for Sophie, a kind of care taking I was totally willing to do, that I accepted needed doing and that I was responsible for. But I also had to take care of me, which meant accepting that I am worthy of care, then doing what's needed: taking my medications, journaling, being gentle with myself about starting over again.

Practice makes progress, as a WW leader said to me years ago. Progress. That's all I can ask for.
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