Taking It Easy And Feeling OK

I’ve been taking things a little easier lately, and generally feeling better for it. I cut my acting practise back to two nights a week (instead of four), so I can accommodate the pick-up course I’m doing on two other nights a week. I get overwhelmed when I think how far I have to go with my emotional expression, and when I look at the amount of stuff I want to learn about conversation, dating and seduction skills… but I just keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. And my relationships with women are steadily improving as a result. You might wonder what relevance that has to chronic fatigue, but I find that when I’m under stress my symptoms are much worse. And not having the relationships that I want is a source of stress in itself. As Daniel Goleman says in his book Social Intelligence, all stress is social. I’ve always been mildly socially phobic, so I’m putting a lot of effort into getting this area of my life handled to reduce my social stress.

I find that when I’m stressed out, I feel overwhelmed and anxious, and my symptoms get worse. But if I keep it under a certain threshold, I don’t feel too bad. My term as Toastmasters club president ends at the end of June, and I’ll be relieved to offload the responsibility to someone else. I was thinking of quitting Toastmasters altogether, but I still have a dream of being a motivational speaker/teacher to help other people once I’ve sorted my own stuff out. I feel like this is on hold at the moment while I’m ill, so in the mean time I’m busy learning everything I can about public speaking, self-confidence, emotional mastery, dealing with anxiety, and social dynamics. I can’t wait to get there; but then I remind myself to take one step at a time. I’m really looking forward to hearing Darren LaCriox speak at the upcoming district conference, as he appears to be doing what I’d love to do. One of the other members of my Toastmasters club was telling me about her 5 year plan to become a speaker in her area of expertise; 5 years sounds like a loooong time to me… but at least she has a plan! It’s hard to plan when I don’t know how long it will be before I can really put energy into anything full-time without hitting the fatigue wall. Perhaps the purpose of chronic fatigue is to teach me a lesson in patience.

I started seeing a new holistic healer last week. I was really surprised how emotional I felt when he asked me what was going on in my life when I became ill. I told him the story of how I went on a motorcycle road trip to Brisbane to hang out with my father’s family for a bit, and the conversations I had with my aunty Edith about my father. She’s a sensitive soul, and we connected pretty well while I was there. Wow, it bought up a lot of emotion for me; which seemed odd since I’ve talked about it before. I think the big deal there was about feeling like there’s nobody else in my immediate family that I really connect with on an emotional level, and how hard that’s been for me. I think the emotional stuff around chronic fatigue is huge, so I’m going to keep seeing this guy for a while. I was drawn to him because while he’s respectful of emotions, he’s also a pretty masculine blokey kinda guy. He has that masculine energy that David Deida talks about in his book The Way Of The Superior Man, which my father and most of the other men in my family seem to lack.

If I can maintain things the way I’m currently going, I feel reasonably happy most of the time. Not quite so many extreme lows, and I haven’t spent a whole day in bed for a while. I still feel rather anxious about where I’m heading in life, but for the time being I’m in learning mode and we’ll worry about where it’s all heading later. My biggest hassle lately has been insomnia, which seems to hit me in waves every now and then. I had been sleeping till mid-afternoon on days that I didn’t have anything on, and that makes it hard to get to sleep at night; so I’m going to try and stop doing that. I’m following the advice in Timothy Sharp’s The Happiness Handbook on sleep, and taking Valerian each night at bed-time.

I wake up every morning now and declare that it’s going to be a great day. And I celebrate my successes. Life is good, it’s a sunny day, and I’m grateful for being alive.

Jealousy, Fear, Anxiety, Setbacks and Starting Again

I went to acting practise last night, and had a good time; it always gives me a lift. There’s a girl there who I really like who has been quite friendly towards me, and I’ve been hoping to get to know her better. Last night I heard her say to one of the other guys “We’ll have to get together for coffee sometime!” Urgh. I felt really jealous. I’ve had a few minor setbacks in the romance area lately; a number of girls I’d been interested in turned out to have boyfriends, or to just seem uninterested in me. Another girl I met on the Internet has turned fickle and negative towards me (yeah, there’s a story there). Definitely triggers my whole abandonment fears. But there are plenty of other fish in the sea, right? So I stayed up late last night sending contact requests to women who sounded interesting on an online dating site. The problem for guys online is that with the usual inhibitions out of the way, women are swamped with requests from introverted guys and you end up lost in the noise. If I get any response at all, most of the time it’s a rejection… which hit’s that abandonment button square on. Gawd, I’d love to be less sensitive. Just brush it all off and move on. I felt really lonely and looked around for someone online to chat to, but there was nobody… and I was too tired to keep my eyes open anyway.

It was almost 1am by the time I got to bed, and I had a pretty good sleep. I woke up about 8:30am this morning feeling an anxious sensation in my chest. It was accompanied by the usual thoughts about the Big Three: health (when is it going to get better?), career (what am I going to do?), and relationships (when am I going to sort that out?). I listened to the meditation CD, and calmed down a bit. I wish it was possible to have an amygdalectomy and just get the bastard removed. My emotions only ever seem to cause me trouble.

I went to see an amateur production of Grease on the weekend which some friends of mine were in. It took me back to my first role, where I played Kenickie… before I got ill. I almost cried when Rizzo sang “There are worse things I could do”; I was actually moved by it. My acting teacher has been telling me to “be more affected by things”, so I guess I’m getting there. I’m still hoping that the acting course unlocks my emotional repression enough to release some of the stress I feel, allowing my body to recover faster than it would just with the Gupta programme alone. I seem to be getting more expressive during practise, and I’m really enjoying the course as it definitely gives me a lift most of the time. Just as long as I don’t wear myself out with the extra workload. I also want to try some psychodrama… I’ll let you know how that goes.

I visited my parents yesterday for the first time in a couple of months, which went OK. I’d grown a beard and shaved my head since last seeing them. My mother didn’t recognise me. Later on she asked “If you could do anything, what would you like to do?”. I think she was reaching out and trying to be helpful; but I wasn’t in the mood. Too tired to really engage, and I had a busy day yesterday which didn’t help. A pre-CFS friend from dancing rang while I was there to invite me around for Good Friday lunch. It’s nice to know I still have a few friends who keep in touch since I dropped off the planet.

I’ve just watched Session 3 of the programme, so I’m back to starting again with Stop-Stop-Stop. I hope the testimonials give me more motivation, as I’ve been kinda slack lately. I haven’t felt too bad physically though lately; mainly just tired and a bit anxious. I’m kinda at the “I can live with this; but it’s still a pain in the ass” level. I’m taking my guitar to acting class this afternoon for my activity, and doing two classes today. That should be fun!

Painful Vulnerability

Nothing triggers my emotional insecurities like a pretty girl who appears disinterested in me. There’s one such girl in my Toastmasters club. Let’s call her Liz. She’s extraordinarily pretty, intelligent, slim, shy and endearing. Shy and endearing look pretty attractive on a girl. When she turned up to a club meeting a few months ago, I fell for her the moment I met her.

So I went along to Toastmasters last night. I’m president of my club, so I always feel a tiny bit extra special there, and it’s usually an enjoyable evening. The role of the president is to learn the skill of delegation, so I actually do the least work of any committee member. Last night I sat next to Liz. We ended up going head-to-head in the impromptu speaking debate on whether long or short hair is better. Having just had my head shaved, I spoke for short hair. She won. I even voted for her.

Liz is sweet and friendly… but I think disinterested. I occasionally thought I was getting some positive vibes from her and have made a couple of attempts to connect with her outside of Toastmasters meetings. When she split from her boyfriend late last year, I thought I might get to know her better. But when I recently invited her to come to a musical with me, she said she was “busy that night”; as opposed to “busy that night, but could we go another night?”. I know she’s not the most assertive person (that’s why people go to Toastmasters!), but I figured if she was interested she’d be giving me a few more positive signals.

I tend to get stuck on girls I really like who don’t seem interested in me. Perhaps there is something in me that likes a challenge. Or maybe it’s just my subconscious desire to endlessly reproduce the emotional abandonment of guess-which-parent. Either way, I feel really drawn to Liz, and keep thinking I should invite her to something else or trying to connect… while also thinking to just play it cool. I know I’ll be disappointed if/when she hooks up with someone else. I’m still working on developing my “abundance mentality” when it comes to appealing women, a.k.a. plenty of fish in the sea. There are several attractive girls in my acting class who I get to interact with at rehearsals, who also seem really sweet and appear more interested in being friends with me. I could just hook up with one of them. Somehow the thought of rejection by someone I really like causes this sick-in-the-stomach feeling for me. I know all the theory of handling rejection by not taking it personally, but when it comes to putting it into practise with a girl I’ve fallen for, it’s a different story. And a guy in my class who bought my book on attracting women sent me an email asking how to ask this girl he’s interested in out… I totally feel for him, much more than he realises.

I feel really envious for other guys who don’t seem to have this same painful vulnerability. They seem to just go through life without being affected by this sort of shit like I do. However, I’m getting to see in my acting class that other people have the same insecurities as me: the method we’re learning is totally self-exposing and based on being very real. It’s not actually “acting” at all, so I do get to see what’s going on for other people. And at the meditation retreat last week, it turned out that everyone was struggling but we just didn’t know what other people were going through, because we weren’t allowed to talk to each other. It’s a bit similar in our society where guys aren’t allowed (or rather, don’t allow themselves) to talk to each other about what’s really going on in their lives. So we don’t know “Oh, you go through that too eh?”

Last night I had a dream that Liz and I were at this huge nudist event, giving each other a big, close, naked hug. No doubt the scene was inspired by my memory of the recent Spencer Tunick shoot I participated in, but god that hug in my dream felt good. Not so good after I woke up and realised that it wasn’t real. All of this stuff goes on in the emotional centre of the brain, so I have no idea what impact it has on my CFS symptoms and the whole amygdala retraining recovery process. Should I abstain from any thoughts of emotional involvement with women? Or is it actually better for me to be feeling and expressing emotion? My exercise from acting class is to practise becoming more emotionally effected by things, not less. At the moment I’m a bit of a robot. Always have been, and I figure this internalised stress is what’s caused the illness in the first place. It would be nice to have a supportive partner but I dunno about the whole relationship thing. And I need to find a girl I like who also likes me; that’s always the dilemma.

I felt exhausted after breakfast today, and went back to bed. I remind myself that if my body feels exhausted, then rest is the top priority. It’s not a bad thing to spend a morning in bed; thus I avoid the anxious thoughts about it. I’ve been feeling less exhausted than usual lately and mainly just having the nasal drip and cough symptoms. They get worse when I don’t rest. I have to constantly remind myself not to take on new stuff, and to say “no” to things I want to do that will over-stretch me. I felt good at Toastmasters, and thought “maybe I will do those story-telling speeches I had planned after all”. But then I end up committing to things that don’t go so well when the time roles around and I’m exhausted.

I watched Session 2 again today, and got back into the meditation CD. I think it’s all working. Slowly. If you’re reading and have comments, I’d love to hear ’em.