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WHAT THE ACTUAL F**K ARE YOU DOING?! How often do you find yourself wondering that about yourself? It’s been rumbling around in my head for months and I keep thinking “I’ll sort it out after we’ve moved/Christmas/therapy finishes/the marathon/reflexology assessment etc etc”. All the while not feeling quite right. Pulled in too many directions and wanting to do it all. I want to prove that I am capable, I want to be a great mother, a fantastic wife, a superb homemaker, an awesome pet owner, a good friend. I want to show that I am stable and responsible and coping and smiley. I am desperate to feel like a competent runner, to achieve, to have a healthy body, to thrive as a reflexologist, to contribute to society. I just want to be a really good person, like really, really good.

All of this pulling, this way and that, spreading myself thin (whilst in reality getting fatter!), well it’s not helped at all. I’ve been trying to use everything I’ve learned through DBT and Schema therapy to navigate this life – for success! LOOK AT ME! I AM BETTER! You may give me a gold star.

It’s backfired.

Take running for example, the more I try and push myself then the worse I feel. I feel bad because I feel like I’m failing. For whatever reason my body isn’t responding in the expected way. My fitness remains worse than patchy. My weight continues to creep up. My clothes no longer just too tight – they just plain don’t fit. I have been puzzled and bereft to be honest. Why am I failing at this? Why? Then comes the toddler strop “IT’S NOT FAIR!”. I’m trying really really hard. I’m embarrassed. I want to give up. What is the point? This isn’t limited to running either, it’s everything. Honestly I feel like I’m failing at everything all the time. Why?

So, I think to myself: what’s this all about? Why do you feel so lost Kate? And I do y’know? I feel really, really lost. I turned back to the Values and Priorities exercise that is part of DBT. Did my current life match my values? Well, yes, absolutely. So WTF is the problem here?

Illness was the medium via which the answer was delivered. I have a cold. Oh pish posh! A cold?! Well, that’s nothing at all! Well, that can be true but it isn’t for me. This cold that I have has made me physically very weak. Even standing was difficult. I am on day 4 of rest and, let me tell you, I am still struggling. First of all, yes, of course there is the shame at being so pathetic that I am reacting to a simple cold as if I have some terrible condition. However, I’ve got to accept that. Yesterday just getting up was a monumental task and I had to wave my white flag and ask my husband to please do school drop off – remember what I said at the start about wanting to be a great mother and a fantastic wife? Doesn’t really match up does it? So, with all of this going on, I’ve had time to think. Plans have had to be cancelled. Housework is going undone. Training is completely shelved.

STOP.

WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU DOING?

My initial reaction was pure BPD: give up everything! No more running, or reflexology. Just do the house and family stuff… or maybe don’t… Definitely pull out of the London Marathon 2020 – you don’t need that stress. I noticed it was stereotypical black and white thinking. Then I noticed that I was looking at my Values in exactly the same way. I was looking at my life, asking myself if it matched my Values, answering yes and then remaining utterly confused to my sense of being lost. I was thinking of it in black and white, yes and no. Take the example of running a marathon – does that fit in with my values for a healthy and fit body? Well, yes, yes it does. OK, but, does it need to be a marathon to achieve that? Would a half or even a 10K also achieve the same thing, especially considering that I’m dealing with health gremlins (https://madmumruns.org/2019/06/12/tap-dancing-gremlins/) ? Ummm….errrr…yes. I suppose it would. BINGO! Perhaps this seems ridiculously obvious to you but to me this is a massive revelation. I don’t actually need to do the biggest, most out there, challenge for something to be challenging, for something to count. I looked at what I wanted to achieve and told myself let it go. It really is time to accept how hard I’m finding things and adjust my goals. Seeing as I can’t get round 10K without a break at the minute then, you know what, 10Ks are challenging enough for now. As such I’ve contacted some races I’m signed up to and asked to drop down to the 10K. Running is supposed to be my escape, my mental boost, my freedom. It’s supposed to be the thing that causes me delight when I get a surprise PB, not a tool to beat myself down with! I am in charge.

With that in mind, last night I sat and thought about my goals, my priorities. I put them under headings: Social, Professional, Exercise and Nutrition. Under each heading I included details of things that I do that are important to me. I added some targets of things that are simple but that I’d like to achieve in the coming months.

I feel better. Not physically better! No, physically I feel completely wiped out and pretty disgusting right now, let me tell you. However, mentally, I do feel a bit better. My mindset has changed a bit. I am reminded that ‘good enough‘ changes dependant upon circumstances. Right now, that’s good enough for me.

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