It’s not you…really…it’s me…

After an entire life of creating methods to protect myself from the possible heartache love has to offer (albeit immature methods for an underdeveloped heart), I have almost blissfully tripped into this notion about love, and letting it in…all the way in. I will admit, this concept makes me a bit panicky. 
I am working under the impression that, so far, sadly, I have not been involved with THE person. I have not met THE love of my life. Therefore, I’m thinking, the real me has yet to show up. She is reserved for THE one and only. And at this point, I am sure I will know him when I meet him. That’s what you all have, right?? One true love? The man or the woman with whom you simply can’t live without? The person that makes everything feel right? 
Well. 

Not me. 

Not yet.

…which is why I remain single. So here’s the thing, here’s the notion…as my mother always says:  

you are who you attract.

When I find myself in relationships that aren’t full of love, full of that thing that makes all of you swoon…full of that deep, soulful, respectful, somewhat desperate, all the way consumed love, than what am I contributing, or not contributing to be a part of such a caveat of disconnect? Why have I yet to find THE one? 
This is what i got: Possibly and very likely having something to do with me hiding the real me.

Through my own journey of dating, marriage, divorce, dating again… I have become aware that I have willingly kept myself guarded within each relationship. Even my marriage. Guarded, and usually with one foot out the door. I owe several men apologies for my posture in this whirlwind of my locked down heart…I usually went after the unavailable and ran from the willing. Either formula created the same required arms length distance from the fire that I feared would ultimately harm.
So, it would lend itself to the notion, that WHEN that one true love shows up…I’ll know him already in some hopelessly romantic kind of way, and THE very best version of me, who has thus far been under wraps, will simply rise. 
As he arrives, so will she.

Or…

I can let down the walls. The beautifully constructed, strong as shit, walls that dutifully, year after long year have stood taller and stronger and meaner and tougher than any of the assumed violators trying, some harder than others, to break me. 

So far I’ve been correct guarding myself against some, they were as lost or manipulative, or as guarded as me. I’m glad some got away, just as I’m glad that I got away from some…remember, you are who you attract.

Maybe this is where the cowboy rides away…and maybe this is the leading lady’s grand bow as the curtains fall and the roses are thrown from the crowd, a metaphoric farewell to the fortress around my heart…the scattering of the scared as the defenses are no more and the walls are gone.

And left standing, is the most loving, most beautiful, funniest, most honest, most unguarded version of me. Waiting for no one. 

Present for THE one. 

I am here.

I am who I attract.

If I want the real thing, I gotta be the real thing first…one torn down wall at a time. 

And voila, the best me has arrived.

Happy Holidays…

It bears repeating.

I laugh, I love, I struggle, crawl, succeed, laugh, hold my breath, reach, bend, fail, hold still, defend, scratch, cross the line, laugh, laugh too loud, make mistakes, succeed, touch the flame, do what I’m told, break the rules, follow a leader, love, lose, fail, struggle, crawl, succeed, laugh, hold my breath, reach, bend, hold still, defend, scratch, cross the line, laugh, laugh too loud, make mistakes, succeed, fail again, touch the damn flame, do what I’m told, break every rule, follow a leader, be the fucking leader, love, lose, struggle, do it again. Do it again.

Win, achieve, run faster, walk, slow down, breathe, be the punchline, be the excuse, be the damn reason. Be kind, be compassionate, forgive, forget, undo, redo, shut up, rise up.

Love. Let it in.

Be gentle. Be gentle.

Trip. Fail. Shake it up. Make them think. Make myself think. Fuck it up. Be thoughtful. Be brave.

Do it again. Do it again.

Love. Be loved. Make mistakes. Be disliked. Try again. Try again. Try again. Try again. I am exactly who I am supposed to be. I am brave. Shake it up.

Be still. Be still. Run.

Love. Love. Love.

This world needs my push, and I need its pull…so stand up.

Do it again. Do it again.

Me? Midlife?

I don’t like looking at myself as in “mid-life”…but ok, maybe I am. I certainly have spent a LOT of time using myself as my biggest social study and have learned a LOT about vulnerability and anxiety by doing so. Those who know me, know that I can be a piece of work. I can’t hide that. Hell, me being a piece of work is my calling card. My clients TRUST me because I am such. My interns appreciate me because I am such. My daughter rolls her eyes at me because I am such.  But, allow me to say, most of us who are such are usually hiding some kind of fear. Take that from me. And at this, um, let’s just call it, stage, as opposed to mid life…thank you…at this stage, my fears are a force to be reckoned with. The mother fuckers have tripped me up more times than not. They either have to get their asses kicked, or I will become old, not wise, way before my time. They’ve grown to be mighty. So my task at hand is to grow mightier than my fears. Luckily age has given me strength.  Be very warned, fears of mine…I am…grown up. And I am stronger than you.

This popped up on my feed via social media. I’ve always appreciated Brene Brown’s brave voice. This is no exception. Chew on this, Beth Lewis, you piece of work, you. 

“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”
~ Brené Brown

Tap in, chin up. Armor be gone. One day, hopefully sooner than later, my fears won’t exist. Shit. Who will I be without my fears? THAT is who I am dying to meet. 

Beth Lewis Therapy Group

 

Not my best

May, 2017

I have finally experienced a break down. 

A total EVERY-emotion-has-shattered-and-how-strong-were-they-really-in-the-first-place landslide. It has been a long time coming, a long time building this not so strong emo-structure wrapped in a muscle suit. I spent so much time building the muscles that laughed when it was appropriate to laugh and the muscles that allowed me to smile when it was appropriate to smile. I knew I was fooling some, likely not many, but most importantly, I had myself steadily tricked, solidly fooled. 

I kept a running check list: relationship with daughter, excellent; 

professional career climb, superb; 

relationship with Stunning Man, rather excellent;  

new friendships built after losing several in my divorce, as painful as that was, new friendships were growing, excellent.

I was golden! The poster child for She Went Back To School After a Music Run in a Rock Band and Is Now A Happily Divorced Therapist… 

Success! 

Education wins! 

I win! 
Until I lost. Finally.

And it took the youngest, albeit most powerful, person in my world to knock me silly. Like a dog getting hit by a car, I limped and ran before I hit a curb out of traffic where I could isolate myself, lick my wounds, and whimper. 

While resting defeatedly in that metaphor of a gutter, against the figurative unbending curb, I cried, a lot. 

While my flimsy foundation was finding its way to this final fallout, there were so many signs telling me this landslide was coming:

I tried with all my not-so-strong-anymore-might to push away Stunning Man. Because boy, can he read me like a book and I was getting feverishly nervous he would see that I am not so golden.  

I drank all the wine. 

I felt hate for the first time in my life towards a person who doesn’t (totally) deserve it.  Obviously I’m still working on this one.

I was experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety. 

I was wrecked with such intense claustrophobia that I wouldn’t get in elevators, I had to almost run up or down closed staircases, even driving in my car was a struggle. 

When within social situations, even with Stunning Man, I would drink, just to cope. 

I was SCARED. Scared. Shit, I don’t know WHY I was scared, but I was feeling so much fear, every day, all the minutes. My hands were shaking, my smile muscles were growing weak…dear God, let no one see my weak existence, was a frequently whispered prayer.

And then my precious daughter’s life fell apart. 

As I watched her cry and hurt and experience heartache and coping ideas that failed her, as I watched her bad choices corner her…as I hugged her so many times feeling her own defeated body lean against me…it occurred to me:
Am I her curb? 

As her Dad and I (along with his wife, and my Stunning Man, and a beautiful circle of families that love my Kid) are navigating my daughter back to a healthier, stronger path, I have a chance to sit with myself. 

And myself, as of the last good while, is the wimpiest presence I have felt from another in a long time. If I am my daughter’s curb, and I am this wimpy, how much safety, how much healing, am I really giving to her? 

THIS realization has kicked my ass, thrown me down and beaten me silly. I have cried even more now, I have had more to drink, I have started experiencing that claustrophobia within my own skin. My own skin! Jesus. Enough. 

My daughter needs an unbending curb. Rise up, sister. Pull yourself together…

As I fill pages with written words that express my inner darkness, my fears, my prayers, as I stop drinking all the wine, as I hyper organize my business, giving it a stronger build, a more solid foundation, as I stop pushing Stunning Man away, as I literally go to my knees to pray to a Love, a God to fill me…

I am finally, on my way. It’s a journey, as cliche as it all can be, it’s a mother fucker of a journey.

And with this, all of this, my daughter can lean on me and know that I am her unbending-real-human-fellow-artist-full-of-love-for-her-and-for-her-entire-journey curb. 
As I grow more fearless, stronger, she becomes safer. 

I am her curb. 

We are not in this alone. 

Rise up, dear ones. 

You, too, are someone’s curb. 

flush the cleanse

About two weeks ago I decided to start a three week cleanse. I would only consume raw fruits and veggies. I would pile up delicious fresh, raw salads every day.  The goal was to hyper nourish my bod, cleanse out anything I wasn’t using, and to feel awesome, lighter by Thanksgiving. I figured if I went into the holidays feeling good, I would manage the holiday deliciousness with a little more care than if I went into all of it mindlessly. I still agree with such an effort, and am still on track to accomplish such a task. No biggie, really…until I was on day 6 of my cleanse.

I began feeling really awful. Like very awful. Worn down. Tired. GRUMPY. Now I know  a thing or two about nutrition to know that this was NOT how I should be feeling during a cleanse of any kind (I have successfully accomplished many vegan cleanses in my day). So I plopped down on a red bar stool in my kitchen, and bellied up to my kitchen island (this is where I do a  lot of my thinking). I opened my lap top and began reading, researching, double checking, and simply second guessing my current efforts. Up to this point I had not been eating meat or animal/fish of any kind. I was very, very minimal with dairy, as well. I chose to flush the cleanse and redirect many of my efforts.

I have been weight training. This is a very new development for me. It is VERY very out of my comfort zone. My usual exercise go to is to jump on my bike and ride. I glide along the Trinity Trail with ear buds in and I escape into my very happy place as I pedal mile after mile. Or I go into a yoga class. I find the best corner, back of the room spot and plop onto a mat and escape into my zen place  (others in the yoga classes usually gracefully place their toned bodies on their very own mats, but I plop on what is usually a mat that is provided with the class, in my same clothes I wear to ride my bike miles) . By doing this I have kept the exact same body, and the exact same extra 15 pounds (says me) on my bod for, um, ever. So something had to give. After talking to my dear girlfriend who looks super hot and has been weight training, I decided I would shake things up a bit, exit my comfort zone and go very fearfully into this new world of weights, trainers, and lots of muscles (so far only on others).

I have a really awesome trainer (who, by the way, I tried firing more than once early on. But his boss reminded me of the contract I signed, cha ching, and that it would cost for me to quit. Damn. It. Money talks, so I stayed, VERY begrudgingly). He and I now crack a lot of jokes, discuss a lot of life’s issues (with great amounts of humor), and I confide in him all of my insecurities about being in a gym, lifting weights, and my current inability to do more than 3 push ups. He does a very good job honoring my passive aggressive efforts by telling me I am NOT fat and that I am stronger than I think. Right. Good job, Well Paid Trainer.

In this world, protein is the name of the game. Protein is the name of the game in most athletic/healthy worlds, and I was learning that I had been depriving my bod of enough protein for awhile now. Please hear me when I say, there are plenty of vegans and vegetarians out there who have protein quantities dialed in. I simply wasn’t one of them. So, I have reintroduced myself to animal proteins. I’ve been eating grilled and baked chicken several times a day, egg whites for breakfast, and raw nuts as well. And I feel MUCH better, my DIScomfort zone in the gym has quickly become a much more comfortable zone for me. My relationship with food has shifted. Again.

Point is, listen to your body. Listen closely. What works for one person may not work for you. What worked for you for awhile, may not work for you now. What works for you now, may need to be tweaked and shifted next year. Tune in. Know you. Love you. Be kind to you. Be kind to your excess, your deficits, your YOU. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, read articles, learn more than you currently know. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. As I tell my clients often, change is in the discomfort. Go towards the discomfort, and love yourself all the way.

And by the way, I can do 7 push ups now.

dramatic.

I am in the thick of it. Constantly, constantly aware that my world needs to change. The depths of my guts have full knowledge that change is necessary while the tops of my brains shower fear over my drive. I’ve done all there is to do to prolong, to drag it out, to hesitate and procrastinate. I am in the thick of it. 

Well into the 4-follow-up-weeks of my 60-Days to Kick Your Crutch (this is further described on my website under ‘Therapy With Me’), I am surrounded by myself. It’s that same feeling I get when I am cleaning out a closet or going through files…once all the stuff is scattered out around me, right before I can sort it and tuck what stays back into place, right in those moments when it’s too late to go back and still too soon to call it done.  It is here that the truest work gets done. 

I am now aware, thanks to many days of clean living, that I am riddled with inaccurate thinking. I have this go-to tendency to undermine myself and to sell myself short. I have spent years, many years, with an internal voice that can be mean, intolerant, judgmental and down right hostile. And if that voice isn’t enough, I have this second internal tone that is elated, exaggerated, elevated to a place that is simply inflated, as if to counteract the meanness. A behavior, a habit that has caused me to inaccurately view my involvement with my surroundings most days. This inner conflict is what is currently scattered around me so I can sort, shuffle, scatter, re-examine, toss and re-file my very own self. 

Change is right there. I can see it.  I have longed for it. I have feared it. I have tried my best to sabotage it.  

I, along with everyone, am made of many great things. As I sludge through the thick of it, I emerge. A continuation of the better version of me.

I am, once again, doing my REBOOT cleanse today and tomorrow.  It’s SIMPLE, clean, and it floods your system with vitamins and nutrients, releasing stuck toxins and hydrating your beautiful temple.

For 48 hours I will allow myself to ONLY consume fruits and vegetables, hot tea, and plenty of filtered water.  I choose a juiced version of the fruits and veggie goodies because it’s the QUICKEST way to get the nutrients into my  bod.  I also choose to only consume green or herbal teas with lemon (or no lemon), and ginger root (or no ginger root). Green teas have a minimal amount of caffeine, while herbal teas have none. Stay clear of the black teas for now, as well. If you’re a coffee drinker, just give it a rest for a couple of days. If you’re a daily alcohol drinker, give that a rest for a couple of days, too.

My clients know that I make the following REBOOT Smoothie just about every morning.  I make a blender full and I drink the entire amount to start my day. Please use ORGANIC fruits and vegetables. I know they are more expensive, but the nutrients in the organic are significantly higher than those in non-organic…we can thank the FDA for their poor regulations in mass farmed anything. This smoothie will serve as my main consumption for the next 2 days…

You will need a JUICER and a BLENDER for this REBOOT Smoothie:

IN THE JUICER:

1 large apple (I like Fuji personally)

1 medium sized beet

a small dose of raw ginger root

about 4-5 raw medium sized carrots

1 medium to large sized cucumber

IN THE BLENDER:

about 4-5 handfuls of raw spinach

all the juice from the juicer

one scoop of  protein powder (I like Plant Fusion vegan/no soy protein powder)

one scoop of Super Greenfood Vitamin powder

FROZEN FRUIT (your choice; i usually use strawberries, but have recently used peaches)

Blend it all up and slurp it into your gut with a straw…delicious…and it’s doing your beautiful bod a BIG ol FAVOR.

You can make this smoothie 1 to 3 times a day for the 2 days. Drink plenty of filtered water and enjoy plenty of hot tea.

If you find yourself hungry or grumpy, then go for another smoothie,  grab a few raw carrots, or a handful of cold, crunchy grapes.

It’s ONLY for 2 days. And by flooding your system with so many delicious fruits and vegetables you will force out toxins, lighten your body, and just overall REBOOT your system.

Your GOAL is to build a body that is not only healthy, and nutrient rich, but a body that actually FIGHTS disease.

Make your changes or improvements now… and remember,

if you change nothing, nothing changes.

you are not an addict…

You have become a slave to a substance or a medicine,  to your behaviors that are stuck.

You have grown to use your behaviors (anything that seemingly soothes)  as a Band-Aid for deeper cuts. Calling yourself an addict because of these stuck behaviors (over drinking, overspending, over gambling, overeating, etc) and therefore focusing on never using that behavior again is like having an uncomfortable mattress (emotions) and blaming your blanket (behavior).

Take 60 days to NOT consume your medicine (to not indulge in your behavior of choice).

The reason for 60 days is because if you place 60 days anywhere on the year calendar, you are likely to experience a nice sampling of your life. And the goal during these 60 days is to experience life without your medicine, without your unproductive, stuck behavior. But even more, to experience what you FEEL while experiencing life without your medicine.  THAT is the mattress. The medicine, the stuck behavior, remember, is only the blanket.

Once you dive way into the mattress, or the feelings that come up when experiencing life, and learn first how you’re currently handling the feelings (which has historically pushed you to medicate), then RE-LEARN a new method of managing these feelings, you will have a more luxurious, healthier base from which to pull your comfort…you will no longer have a lumpy mattress. And instead of your blanket being over-worked to make up for your mattress, your blanket will finally just be…a blanket.

After the 60 days of an unmedicated life, intentional experiencing of feelings, and mindful learning of new methods, your medicine, or behavior, can be reintroduced and a new relationship with your medicine (which can now be called one of life’s extras) will be experienced. You won’t have to NEVER do something again, or ALWAYS call yourself “an addict”, these shields will not be available for you to hide behind, or to teach you avoidance.

Instead, you will rise from your own free will, from the strength that you innately have, to become a better version of yourself.

60-days starts now.

*Beth’s 60-Day-Kick-Your-Crutch therapy plan offers 12 weeks of weekly  therapy, coupled with weekly goals to help you dive into your mattress, so to speak. Click on ‘Therapy With Me’ at bethlewistherapy.com.

New Year, Old Me…

It’s not the food I eat, or the food I don’t eat. It’s not the miles I put on my bike, or the yoga postures and the duration to which they get held. It’s me. It’s the me I’ve always been, and it’s the me I sometimes fear I’ve become. It’s my character, or sometimes, lack there of. I have lied, cheated and stolen in this life. For a split second those tricks can feel good. They can help prop me up to a place I would rather be. A place to which I haven’t yet arrived because of all the split seconds I’ve used to cheat myself from designing something of a more quality substance.

I’ve found it rather convenient to hide behind these less than desirable tricks, or shields. They not only give that split second prop, but they also allow me to keep myself in a corner, safely hidden from my very own bravery. Bravery needed to shed my shields and to come eye to eye with all of my strength. Bravery takes much more effort than fear. And I’m afraid I’ve become more practiced at fear than I have exercised bravery. Instead, I use those props, to create chaos, then exercise a sense of creating order. A very futile exercise in spinning my wheels.

When I was much younger, I would dump everything out of all my drawers and cabinets in my room, pile all of it up on my bed, then sort through all of it, one piece at a time, and tidy all of it up. Clothes neatly tucked into my drawers, objects placed just so on my shelves, order created out of chaos made. That tendency, too, has served as a way for me to avoid the painful process of sitting still, and to place smoke and mirrors around my fear of bravery. To hide from my very own strength.

As I grew a bit older I lost a dear friend to her drug abuse. It hurt so deeply and I felt so unqualified to manage the pain, that I fled. Got right on a Greyhound bus, put a Flaming Lips tape (yes, tape) in my Walkman and flipped that tape over and over till I arrived in New Orleans where I would “live” for the next six months in a squat house or two, with other painfully creative (or were we creatively painful?) youth fleeing their worlds to perhaps arrive into a pool of apathy. Once there, I created order within myself. I had to be brave. Fleeing with no plan to New Orleans to survive in the 9th Ward and the French Quarter was my biggest creation of chaos to date. And from that chaos emerged the order in which I still need to live today.

But over my many adult years, I’ve managed to shape, twist, create, contort, design and reshape my life in order to keep it original, vivacious, thoughtful and hopefully mindful enough to grow, expand, and the hardest one for me…to just be. And as I walk into this new year, this fresh starting point (metaphorically, because the new year does not really suggest a new beginning), I am working to put down my shields. A potentially painful extraction, but as I tell my clients, growth and change are in the discomfort. And with this disarming of myself, I hope to come eye to eye with all of my strength. And to just stand still for a moment, and just be…strong.

Happy New Year. Happy Old Me.

2013 bethlewistherapy.com

Beth Clardy Lewis, M.A., LPC

07/05/12

What do we do to free ourselves?

Perhaps a more honest answer may come from asking the question, what have we been doing to keep ourselves oppressed?

Two hundred and thirty six years ago the second Continental Congress established us as independent from Great Britain.

Two hundred and thirty six years later we have a society crippled with diabetes, alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, emotional diagnosis coupled with pharmaceutical drugs to alleviate such clouds, not to mention religious cripples bent over from shame.

It’s almost as if we perform better when we have a title for our state of being: diabetic, alcoholic, drug addict, ADD, ADHD, bi-polar, abuser, abused. Because with a title comes a built in set of expectations. If we are given criteria, often times, we will meet them. Be careful. Such criteria may also serve as the exact ceiling that keeps us contained.  When we subscribe to a title, we are becoming our very own oppressor. Criteria may help us define ourselves. Criteria may also help us limit ourselves.

Freedom comes when we denounce or refuse criteria that contains, limits or stifles.

What do you do to keep yourself down?

Now then, what will you do to free yourself?

Beth Clardy Lewis, M.A., LPC

817-781-3735

bethlewistherapy.com