Changes

I’ve made no secret that I am working to change who I am.  I realized one day that I did not like the person I was becoming. Not just physically, but mentally. And the metal was effecting the physical and the physical was effecting the mental and it was a vicious cycle that I have been struggling to break free of.

I’ve made quite a few changes since I took the time to seriously think and consider all the things about myself that I didn’t like and wanted to change. Some things were easy to change, and some were like pulling teeth.

Losing weight, at least this go around, is proving easier. It could simply be because I am trying to change so much all at once, that tracking calories and eating right is the easiest to do. It almost becomes a way to distract myself from the other things I want to change.

The other physical thing about myself was my hygiene. I talked about it in a previous blog that has since been deleted, but just a year ago my personal hygiene, and my living space hygiene were terrible. If I didn’t have the small factor of still living with my parents, I’d probably have been rolling around in garbage and dirty plates.  I won’t go into the gruesome details of my poor hygiene as I am sure you can imagine. It was not pretty.

But I have made valiant strides there. I brush my teeth twice a day most days (there is the occasional day when I pass out and fall asleep without doing my evening routine). I use Listerine and floss in the morning.  I take a shower every day and wash more than just my hair. I used to take showers in less than 5 minutes because I would literally just wash my hair and get out. Now I take more time and make sure I’m actually clean.

IMG_0246This past week I began chewing Trident White gum in an effort to whiten my poorly cared for teeth. I am fortunate that the entire time I was growing up, all through school k-12 we had fluoride tablets and swish every morning, because we couldn’t afford regular dentist trips when I was younger.

Because of that, though I know I have a couple of cavities now, my teeth are not the rotted mess they could be. My recent dentist visit found 3 cavities and 3 impacted wisdom teeth. I still couldn’t afford to cost of getting the wisdom teeth removed or filling the cavities, though now I can. My anxiety makes the notion of going to the dentist almost unbearable, but it is something that I must do.

I’ve, as of today, re-lost everything I gained back over Easter. It has been a series of two steps forward, one step back, as I lose 10 pounds, gain 8 back over a holiday, then lose those eight, followed by maybe another few pounds before the next holiday. But the holidays are behind me now.

I am finding it easier to say no to junk food. Just today I stood in one of the project manager’s offices, the one who always has a full bowl of mini snickers and kit kats and milkyways right next to the door, and I did not indulge in even one. The gum is helping with that as well. Having my mouth always taste fresh and clean, and having something to chew, is making it easier to not snack. It is also having the unforeseen side effect of loosening my jaw muscles, as I have an unfortunate habit of clenching my jaw at all times. I realized just now as I was typing this that I am not at this moment clenching my jaw.

As far as the mental changes go, those are more difficult.

I have been seeing a therapist every other Wednesday.  Her name is Karen, and she is nice. I am having trouble keeping myself going however, as she—like Alabama Gandalf—has the uncanny ability to stab right at the heart of my issue, which is whatever fact I am trying to hide and refusing to accept/admit.

But I have had changes already since seeing her.

Case in point: Saturday I sat down and decided to try finishing the D&D miniature of my character Sopheriel. I had started this sculpture months ago, but had let it sit too long and the Green Stuff dried out a bit, and clay wasn’t sticking to it. I was getting frustrated so I had set it aside to cool off and not do anything rash. Jump to several months later, this past Saturday, I decided to finish it. Naturally it was even more dried out, and my attempts caused it to break.  In a fit of annoyed rage I crush it and tossed it in the trash.

I briefly for a moment considered starting over, then immediately crushed the idea like I had the sculpture and crawled into bed annoyed and upset. As I lay there I thought about what I had done, and I considered why I had refused to start over. I thought about how at that very moment I had zero desires whatsoever to sculpt. I had no passion for it, I didn’t even want to look at the clay.

As my Therapist and I have discussed, a lot of my choices stem from not feeling good enough. It is easier to sit and watch TV than to try and do something and risk failure. So while I want to write, to draw, to sculpt and to paint, I don’t. Because my lack of skills (at least, my lack of a level of skill I desire) holds me back.

That and laziness. I mean I know my therapist wants to find some deep rooted seed of insecurity, pull it out and I am healed, but I am also just plain and simple lazy.

Regardless, I lay there in bed, thinking all this over, and realizing that the reason I didn’t want to get back over to my table and sculpt was because I was angry at my lack of skill, that I felt I’d never be good enough, that I had just crushed a lot of work (that was looking really good before I destroyed it!) and I was just all around angry, upset, and feeling awful.

No one can create under those conditions.

And my feelings of inadequacy hold me back from drawing, and writing, and following my dreams.  On Sunday April 9th I shut off and unplugged my computer in an attempt to force myself to do the creative things I supposedly loved. It was just supposed to be off for a week. It has now been 2 weeks.  Instead I have spent my time reading, or watching youtube, or napping. Yes, I took lengthy naps on both Saturday and Sunday out of sheer boredom.

So it is clear that I can live without my PC. It is also clear that my PC was not the problem.

I got to thinking. Back when I was most creative was when I was in school. I would be listening to the teacher talk, while doodling in my notebook coming up with characters and RP ideas. I was not so tired all the time, I was not so sleepy and so lazy. I would go home and RP (I consider that a creative outlet) for hours. I would create rather than consume. I was never without a means to sketch or draw.  My mind was awake.

Now my mind feels asleep. Even when I am at work, my work doesn’t challenge me. Not the way I would spend hours tweaking the HTML or Javascript or CSS codes on my websites trying to make them look just right. Or the hours I would spend lost in a book, stopping suddenly and staring off into the middle distance after reading something that sparked my own creativity. My mind was always working, always running, always thinking and imagining.

Now I feel like it’s half asleep. I don’t know how to wake it up, how to get it engaged again. I don’t think the fear of not being good enough is the only problem. I think there is something else.

IMG_0019That and I know I have it in me. Take a look:

I did this image at D&D the other day. Saturday I sat at my desk and I considered characters. I’d been toying with a Warlock, but I wanted to play something that we haven’t seen a whole lot of at our D&D table.

We’ve had wizards and rogues, paladins and druids, but Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Rangers were less common, with Sorcerer’s and Fighters and Bards being the three I had almost never seen so far.

I decided to consider the Sorcerer class, and in reading about the origins and seeing the Dragon Origin, I got my gears working. I went through the available races and found that Tieflings are one of the races that give +2 to Charisma, a sorcerer’s main stat.  I grabbed the Monster Manual and looked up the different dragons. And from that research the thought of a Silver Dragon origin Tiefling Sorcerer would be an interesting character to play.  Tieflings tend to the Chaotic alignments, generally of evil bent, while Silver Dragons are Lawful good, practically the exact opposite.  I considered then the emotional turmoil in such a character, torn between their two halves. With a focus on fire and frost abilities, fire from the Tiefling, cold from the Silver Dragon.

I did this picture at D&D that evening. My party watched in interest while I worked, remarking now and again on how good it looked. I let them pick the hair color and was glad I did. I would have gone for a silvery blue, but they agreed a warmer color, a light red or sunshine orange.

The face shows all the improvements I’ve made through my practice.  The hair, though not perfect, shows the inspiration I’ve gotten from watching Danica Sills youtube. And the way I created it in the first place, as a rough sketch in my journal, imported onto my iPad, reflected the design method I’d learned from Jazza‘s channel.

I have proven to myself, with this piece and the few before it since I started practicing, that just putting a few hours into practice has increased my skills drastically. For comparison, here is an older picture from a few months ago.

sophieThis picture isn’t bad, but the face isn’t as good, the anatomy is terrible.

I still need to work on my anatomy now, but looking at this I can see that the angle is off, that the (her) left arm (the one holding the mace) is too small while the right one is too large, and the hand just looks…awful, and that whole arm looks way too large and the shoulder too far forward. The torso is too long with the breasts far too high, and the pose itself is off balance. There is no weight to it. It doesn’t look like her body is putting weight on either of her feet.

I haven’t practiced anatomy and posting much yet, the few full body pictures I’ve done have been of the person practically floating in a void because I haven’t learned to correct these mistakes yet. But I can point them out, and that is a start. At any rate, the improvements from the face on the paladin and the face on the sorcerer… I get a swell of pride looking at what I’ve achieved in just a short amount of time, and it gives me hope.

Because of that I don’t think that it is just a fear of not being good enough that is keeping me from doing art. There is that…sleepiness in my mind. It feels sluggish, unresponsive, un-engaged. And I am not sure what to do about that.

Meanwhile, there are other mental changes I wish to make.

I am a selfish person. I have worked hard to stop myself from doing some of the manipulative things I’ve inherited from my mother and her mother. I’ve stopped, for the most part, the guilt trips. It is also second nature, so I have slipped from time to time. Poor Gandalf is the major recipient of these, or the only recipient, as the only person that I actively talk to on a regular basis. But I do notice when I turn on the guilt trip, and try to backpedal. I am getting better.

I have tried to be less whiny, to not complain so much. I have tried to be less emotional about things, tried to stop reading too much into things people say and do and making assumptions about their reasons.  And by people I again mean Gandalf, as he is the only one who is close enough as a friend that encounters these things. My D&D group I don’t hang out or talk to beyond D&D so haven’t had these issues with them.

In my work life I have completely stopped making excuses for myself. Though that happened a couple years ago when working at Family Dollar. A manager in training there said to me that she hated it when people made excuses and didn’t take responsibility for their own mistakes. I took that to heart, and from that day I have always strove to take responsibility for my mistakes (perhaps taken it a bit too far and taken responsibility for things that weren’t my fault). But it has been good for me, and earned me the respect of my employers. More than once they have remarked how they appreciate that I never try to blame anyone, or make excuses.

I still have a ways to go. I still tend to be a bit emotional. I still tend to read too much into what people say/do and question them about it or make assumptions. But the first step is knowing your shortcomings, the second is resolving them. I’ve made some heart-felt apologies to people I’ve hurt, or upset with my tendency towards whiny bitchiness and passive-aggressive remarks. I do notice when I do/say things that are not very nice, or bitchy, or whiny or manipulative, and I do try to be better about it.

So in the long run, my attempts at changing myself both mentally and physically are progressing. Perhaps slower than I would like, but it isn’t easy to change a lot about who you are as a person.

The hardest part right now though, is trying to figure out when my mind is so asleep. I think my therapist is on the right track about my fear of being good enough, but I don’t think that’s everything. I don’t know if there is some emotional thing going on or not. Even right now as I type this my mind feels just…tired. I want to crawl into bed and go back to sleep, or just close my eyes and shut down. Is it depression? Is it some chemical imbalance? Is it some emotional thing that I just need to get over and change like everything else? Every now and then, like when I was thinking about D&D character ideas Saturday morning, some creativity breaks through the fog and takes over, but it is short lived and soon replaced by the thick oppression in my mind.

What could that be, and how do I fix it?

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