The Golden Age

A friend of mine recently told me how proud she was of how far I’ve come, and how impressed she was about all the hard work I’d put in on myself during the course of the last few years. This is a friend who I’ve known for fifteen years and she’s seen me go through everything, so when she makes a declaration like this out of the blue, it really stays with me.

I’m a person who’s notoriously difficult to get to know, I don’t open up easily and because of all the walls that got constructed during years of depression and misery, betrayal and hardship, people usually give up on getting to know me before I’m ready to let them in — because it can take a while for me to be ready, and if a person tries to push through then I shut down even more. Or did. Apparently I have changed.

It’s strange… when you get used to how you are and you know all your triggers and the things that’ll set you off and make you happy, the things that’ll make you stressed or wear you down, and over a stretch of time you begin to realize as more events occur that you’re not responding to situations as you’re used to. Where you expect panic, paranoia and stress to come knocking there suddenly is calm, happiness and curiosity instead. Things you’d never dream of trying on your own is suddenly something you crave to do, because a part of you wants to see what it’s like and you’re curious, and, suddenly, even adventurous.

I suddenly find myself making new friends and acquaintances without shutting down or keeping them at arms length, without distributing personality traits onto them that they in reality don’t possess. I am getting to know them and they are getting to know me.

When did this happen? When did I blow up my comfort zone so effectively that I no longer know where the lines fall?

Rewind a few years and you’ve got a twenty year old girl who is on a constant wave of stress; everything is the enemy — the world, the people, the places, herself — and she’s calculating every look, every smile, every word coming from the people around her in case they react to her in a negative way, she doesn’t want that so she needs to be on her toes. She knows all the exits, should she need to get away. Lies are ready on her tongue should she need an excuse to leave. She hopes no one will ask her to do something or come out because she’s not up for it, but she doesn’t have it in her to say no either.

Fast forward to today and that girl does no longer exist. She hardly exist if you look at her from the outside either, sure she’s the same height, same face, same body, same hair, but simultaneously she’s the complete opposite. Fear doesn’t torment her eyes, her face isn’t a mask, her body is relaxed and her smiles and words are real and heartfelt. She now enjoys meeting new people and hearing what they have to say, she loves to try new things and expand her horizon. This girl has dreams, this girl has fallen in love with life. This girl is no longer her worst enemy, but rather her own best friend. And it shows.

Somewhere along the way pieces fell into place. Somewhere along the way I learned to accept my own thoughts and emotions. Somewhere along the way I stopped hiding. Somewhere along the way I learned to accept me! And that is quite possibly the most important feat I’ve ever come to do.

My emotions are valid, my thoughts are valid, my illness is valid, my desires are valid, my fears are valid — you get what I’m trying to say, I hope, I’ve become my own friend and I accept everything about me now, and that includes my illness.

I am going to say something that never even crossed my mind back in 2013, and had it crossed my mind I would’ve gotten angry that I even went there, and it is this: me and my illness have become friends. I haven’t succumbed to it and withered away, no, but I accept it, I understand it, and together we’re working towards a healthy life. It took me a while to realize that I needed this illness in order to get to where I am today. Without my mental and physical crash in 2013 I never would’ve become a person that I actually like; the well balanced, happy, optimistic, loving, open minded person I am today, because I never would’ve been forced into a corner where I had to decide to face down my worst enemy: myself.

Somewhere along the way I tore down all my walls. I decided I didn’t want my past to rule me anymore, I didn’t want to miss out on great people and experiences because my walls were too high and my mind too guarded. I decided I wanted to live, wholly, fully, without mental restrictions put there by my very own self. It was far from easy and I suspect I’ll have to continue on this journey for the rest of my life as new events and experiences will continue to shape me, but I’ll do it gladly because I’ve seen how much I’ve gotten out of it, how much stronger it has made me. And apparently so have the people close to me.

To quote miss Swift’s song State of Grace:

this is the golden age of something good and right and real.

With love,

– Martie xx

 

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Monday Bliss

That Monday blues hasn’t followed me into this week, instead I’m sitting by the kitchen table, smiling, as I eat my vanilla flavoured oatmeal and drink my large glass of vitamin C infused water. Outside there’s a thin layer of snow covering the ice I know to be there, the mountaintops are covered in white and so are the distant tree tops — beautiful! I absolutely love winter. 

In a few minutes I’ll be strapping on my hiking boots and drive out to see a friend, we’ll be going on a walk together with her husky/malamute mix. No, Monday blues doesn’t exist today, and I hope it doesn’t for you either. 

Much love,

– Martie xx

The Old vs The New

I’ve come to discover lately how much I’ve changed, or not changed exactly; centered. It’s like I’ve come into my own — the paranoid, stressed and erratically insecure person I once was is just a memory of the past, she doesn’t exist anymore. Instead I’ve grown comfortable with who I am as a person and realised that it is exactly who I’m meant to be, it has brought me an inner calm that I haven’t known before and you know what? It’s glorious. 

Before I didn’t like to try new things or meet new people, I’d cringe at the mere thought. All those impressions and having to pay attention to everything and everyone and make sure I didn’t do anything that could be perceived as wrong…? It was exhausting, and with good reason! 

Lately I’ve noticed that I’m enjoying new things and new people, that I want to do it and I actually come out of it mentally refreshed because it gives me something in return, instead of taking my spark away it’s igniting it further. It’s still relatively new considering the twenty odd years things weren’t like that, so it still surprises me, like “oh I just came back from spending hours in social company and I feel amazing, how strange!” or “I don’t know why a part of me want to try this… so I’m going to do it!”

It’s like new discoveries and experiences are waiting for me wherever I look because I see things differently now. The world is no longer my enemy, it has become my friend, and I love it. 
– Martie xx 

The Week by the Pictures

Monday was a day of fear followed by relief.    

Tuesday was a day of sweatpants and a messy highbun paired with tender love and care.   

 
Wednesday was a day of pure relief and joy.  

 

Thursday was a day of gratefulness due to existing.

 

 Friday was a day of a welcoming challenge followed by fun. 

 

 Saturday was a day for family followed by more social fun.  

 Today is the day of kinship and love, of steaming coffee and friendly comfort, followed by a welcomed solitude and, hopefully, a dose of creativity. 

 

To sum it all up: this week may have begun with fear, but it is ending with happiness and love, and every day has been much appreciated with all the ups, but also all the downs. 

– Martie xx

Memories of the Past – Thoughts of the Present – Dreams for the Future

About five or so hours ago I sat down at my laptop to write a blogpost, I even went and got a bowl of salty crisps. I was feeling blue and I had a need to put it into words.

I’ve always been a dreamer for what has yet to come, there’s always something within me that’s yearning for a dream that can’t become reality just yet. Lately it’s been coloured with heavy boots trekking through forests and up mountains, gear strapped to the back, a four legged furball walking beside me and who will later curl up in a tent with me… that is of course not a reality these days for many reasons. My own dog is old and too sick to come on any of my usual light walks, this will be his last winter. Me, I’m too sick to venture into something of that magnitude, my body is broken from several years of mainly bed rest, but I relish in the days that I can strap on those hiking boots and walk in terrain instead of this asphalt covered neighborhood. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m back on those mountains like the one pictured below.

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It’s strange to see the one creature I want to escape into the woods with for a few hours become too sick to do so, as I grow stronger he grows weaker, and when my body breaks we meet on common grounds.

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This is from 2011 when we climbed a mountain. Pre illness for the both of us — a trip that brought only bliss and memories that I’ll cherish forever.

My walks have become longer lately, they no longer only measure up to twenty minutes, but can go on for about an hour without me crashing into an abyss of post-extertional malaise. I can feel my almost nonexistent muscles tingle and whine from being used as opposed to when they take on the feel of lead because of illness. I love the feeling of used muscles, and more so I love that I can tell the difference because for a long while there was only heaviness, anvils strapped to every limb making it impossible to move. Now, moving about has become fun — an opportunity to come alive again!

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Besseggen is such a beautiful mountain ridge and we’ve had such an amazing adventure both times crossing it!

So, earlier when I sat in a pool of dreams that could not happen today, me just yearning for the weather outside that measured -19 degrees celsius while the sun shone high, I asked myself: “So, what are you going to do about it?” Pondering this I promptly switched out WordPress for a weather report to check how long until the sun went down — a little under two hours — and called my friend who owns a husky, we do a lot of walks together as her dog needs walking and so does this little rotten body, and we agreed to meet up by the woods.

I closed the laptop and left my bowl of crisps behind, trading my blue state for layers of wool and winter clothing, strapped on my hiking boots and left into the crisp, freezing air. My phone blacked out due to the extreme cold and my friend’s black hair turned white with frost. There was ice and frost everywhere, and the sun shone with a blinding brightness as it hung low in the sky where it had begun declining for the day. The air made my cheeks red and sensitive, and every breath of air felt fresh — fantastic!

These days I dream of mountains and woods and terrain, hiking with a tent strapped to a large backpack, a dog at my side, but for now I’ll continue to use the dreams as motivation as I train my muscles and body back to where they once were, and cuddle with my old little gemstone in front of the fireplace where he now spend most of his days, making sure to treasure every moment with him.

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Memories of past, thoughts of present and dreams for the future ebb and flow together these days, as life often does. These days are good, just as I like them and I hope you are doing well, too. Hugs from us from in front of the fireplace that burns from morning to evening in this cold winter weather.

– Martie xx

Frost and Sunshine Remedies

There’s one thing that continues to surprise me when it comes to my illness: some times moving about will provide more energy instead of leaving me drained. It’s a strange (and difficult) line to play with because I can feel like absolute shit only to go outside for a 15 minute walk and come back refreshed, feeling like I can do anything, but I won’t know which way the scale will tip until I’ve tried. Today is one of those days. 

It was -7 degrees today and sunny, one of my favourite combos, and so I got it in my head that I wanted to go out for a walk. My dog’s too sick to come with which is really depressing, so I drove into town and met up with my sister. I’d told her it’d probably be a short Sunday walk thing and she brought her bicycle in case I got tired so  she could just pop me on the back and cycle back, but we actually walked along the river, through the city and rounded back alongside the ocean to then go for a hot sweet chili coffee (our favourite). The entire walk took about one and a half hour, which sounds so insane in my ears because it’s not something that happens on a daily basis and I don’t feel any symptoms at all, sure I’m a little tired but only like a normal person would feel, nothing even resembling M.E fatigue. Amazing! It’s days like these that fill me with hope and help me get through the bad times because I can look back and know that the bad won’t last forever.  And I can honestly say that I’ve had an amazing day, which feels incredibly nice after an entire month of just living on the couch! 

Hope your Sunday is going well, too! 

– Martie xx

It’s morning, after eight but before nine, and I’m sitting on the floor in a dark kitchen listening to the steady hum of the fridge while the cat weave between my legs as he hunts for cuddles, before he flings himself to the floor and attacks my foot instead. Wine is most likely still pulsing through my bloodstream, thinning and fading with every hour — it’s a far stretch from early night when it would pulse with heavy force through me as I waved my sparklers in the air, head thrown back laughing, hugging the group of friends I’d crawled out of the woodwork to be with for the night, taking polaroid pictures to capture the mood and emotions humming in the air as we all wished each other a happy new year and hoping that this new year, too, will be even greater than any year that came before it. 

It’s eeriely quiet now, a vast contrast to the celebratory night that came before this new morning; the fridge has quit humming and the cat has been allowed to go back outside now that the fireworks are over and done with — I can hear myself breathing and the ticking sound of the clock that is usually so low I never detect it is now so audible I can hear every tick-tick as it keeps track of the time that so often just flies past. 

Now, for a few precious hours, my little world is completely quiet, as if it’s gathering itself before embarking on a brand new year. 

Happy new year from me to you, I hope it’s  a good one filled with love and laughter, and good health. Here’s to a spectacular 2016!

– Martie