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I fear and I hope

I

It’s been more than a week since Ukraine was invaded by Putin’s army. I never really thought this could happen, yet it did happen. I felt the fear inside my body so many times these days, in the beginning a paralyzing fear, making all kind of scenarios in my mind. What am I going to do if this or that takes place? I was and still am in a state of alert.

One day, while taking a walk with my dog, I realized that I have no idea when and how this is going to end and that I cannot live all my days in fear until I have any sort of certainty. So I made space inside for acceptance of what is, as it is: uncertainty, having no idea what will come next in terms of war and its consequences. Then, I made space for some hope. Also played Rummy with my family and realized at the end that while paying attention to the game, for some moments I forgot about the war.

Each day I see the news regarding Ukraine and when president Zelensky asked on March 1st the European Parliament that Ukraine to be added to EU, I thought that a Yes would mean that Putin’s opponent in war would be the whole Europe, not just Ukraine. EU response was No, so the war still stands between Ukraine’s borders.

When doing all normal things, I feel compassion and some guilt that I can do this and most of Ukrainian people can’t. I hope this war will soon come to an end.

Later edit: In the meanwhile I found out about secondary trauma, which occurs when we are exposed to other people’s trauma. It is indeed traumatizing to witness what’s happening now in Ukraine. It also felt like a selfish attitude if I live my life instead of constantly feeling bad about the war, but I also realized that me being stuck in emotions like pain, anger or grief is not actually helping anyone. I walked through the valley of pain, but decided to step out. So I will give myself permission to live – sleep, take a walk, wash dishes, smile, watch a movie, read a book, be grateful – despite the war in Ukraine, just as I gave myself permission to dream or not be extraordinary. I will choose hope, despite the fear I feel.

Letter to my psychotherapist

L

Citește-mă în limba română

“I see darkness ahead of me. I think I need to talk to a psychologist.” That’s what I told my mother when I was about to graduate university. After 16 years of school, when I have always been told what to do, the idea of deciding for myself was so very scary.

I still remember the look on my mother’s face. She said nothing, but in that nothing I felt her helplessness, shame and confusion.

20 years later, I talked with a psychotherapist. We met 4-5 times and each time we discussed a topic I chose. There was this part of myself speaking, but at the same time another part was paying attention to what and how the psychotherapist was saying. I felt empowered after each discussion and I kept thinking afterwards what exactly has helped me the most.

My answers:

  • I could talk about anything and feel welcomed – what a relief!
  • I did not felt judged;
  • I was shown respect and patience and felt being an equal to my psychotherapist, not inferior;
  • I felt listened and accepted, the psychotherapist paid attention to me, stayed in my story and did not leave, no matter what I said;
  • the psychotherapist stood by my side and this sensation somehow filled other empty spaces inside of myself;
  • I felt I do matter as a human being, no matter how my past looked like;
  • I felt enough.

Because I was shown how healthy respect looks like, I started to treat myself with more respect although I felt the guilt of taking better care of myself.

Writing here is a form of honoring myself.


Scrisoare către psihoterapeutul meu

„Văd întuneric în fața mea. Cred că am nevoie să vorbesc cu un psiholog.“ Asta i-am spus mamei mele la final de facultate. După 16 ani de școală, când în permanență mi s-a spus ce să fac, ideea de a decide pentru mine era de-a dreptul copleșitoare.

Încă îmi amintesc expresia de pe fața mamei mele. Nu a spus nimic, dar în acel nimic i-am simțit neputința, rușinea, confuzia.

20 de ani mai târziu, am stat de vorbă cu un psihoterapeut. Ne-am întâlnit de vreo 4-5 ori și de fiecare dată eu am ales subiectul discuției. On-line. O parte din mine vorbea, însă în același timp o altă parte era atentă la cum și ce psihoterapeutul spunea. M-am simțit linișită și împuternicită după fiecare întânire și m-am tot gândit ce anume m-a ajutat cel mai mult în toată terapia asta.

Iată:

  • am putut vorbi despre orice și nu m-am simțit respinsă – ce ușurare!
  • nu m-am simțit judecată;
  • mi s-a arătat respect, răbdare, m-am simțit ca fiind un egal al psihoterapeutului, nu o persoană inferioară;
  • m-am simțit ascultată și aceptată, psihoterapeutul a fost atent la mine, a rămas în povestea mea și nu a dat bir cu fugiții, indiferent ce am spus;
  • psihoterapeutul a fost de partea mea și cumva treaba asta a umplut mai multe goluri din mine;
  • am simțit că eu contez ca ființă umană;
  • m-am simțit suficientă.

Întrucât am văzut cum arată respectul sănătos, am început să mă tratez și eu cu același respect, deși mă simțeam vinovată să am mai multă grijă de mine.

Să scriu aici e o formă de onorare a propriei mele persoane.

To not be extraordinary, permission granted

T

In 2015, while taking a walk outside, I saw a poster on a wall. It said something about a running & fundraising local event. I said to myself: ”I want to do something new in my life. I need to. I will run and raise some money.” In my mind, I felt that I could run for a few kilometres. I had no plan on how to get the money, but somehow I trusted that I will manage to do it.

I could run for 1, 3, 5 or 8 km. I chose 8 km, without any prior running experience. Afterwards, I decided to do fundraising for a project aimed to bring supplies for a kindergarten from a rural area. Out of 3500 lei, the total amount for the project, 1234 lei was my goal. Three weeks before the event, I started to train, running 1 km, then a little bit more. The progress and photos with myself sweating were posted on my FB account.

Then, I asked my husband to help me with a flyer in order to spread the news about my campaign. I asked my mother to tell her friends to contribute. In the end, I raised more money than expected and have been so grateful to see the people around me responding and donating money.

While training, an idea came to my mind: “What if I get the first place as a runner to this event? Wouldn’t it be cool? Wouldn’t I be cool?” I was so seduced by the thought, already seeing myself being the number one person to cross the finish line. I became so sure of my success.

Then, in the day of the event, I saw quite a lot of persons running. Some of them looked fit and experienced. I ran as fast as I could, but it became obvious that other people were faster. In the end, it turned out that the running time of the winner was less than half of my time.

I was pleased and actually happy for being able to run 8 km after only 3 weeks of training, for raising more money than planned, for all the encouragement and help received. Overall, I felt inside like a butterfly that got out of the cocoon. I’d say it was the most fulfilling experience of that year. At the same time, I was a little bit disappointed for not being the first runner.

Over the years, I came back several times to that moment of disappointment. As a child, I have been taught by family and society that I had to be better than the others, preferably in all aspects of life. I learned that I have to perform in school and that this should be my main purpose, everything else being of less significance. This thought followed me later in life, as I grew up, feeling that my life has meaning only if I am better than the others and that I have to prove it over and over again. So exhausting.

Now, when I think of or talk with my parents, I feel like some sort of duty and expectation to be extraordinary for them, to not disappoint them. I can feel the trigger.

So, I am letting go of the need to be extraordinary for my parents. I choose instead to be more ordinary and make decisions that are good for me, even if this is scary for my parents. I let go of the need to have their approval in everything I do. I love them, but I will lower down their voice inside of myself.

I also hope I can take the pressure of being special and extraordinary from my son’s shoulders. Of course, I am already failing at this.

I write here usually once a week. You can subscribe to the newsletter and get each letter in your Inbox. So far I have no subscribers, so I admit I am quite curious to see who breaks the ice and increases my ego with 1,75%. See you next week.

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