Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hitting the Wall

Figuratively, of course.  But that's where I am.  I've finally hit the wall.

I've made it three whole days (which I know in the grand scheme of things, isn't very long) at school, busying myself as best as I can helping others get things done and get rooms ready, all the while, patiently waiting for my room to be ready.  And I have been VERY patient.

But today, I reached my limit.  I am a very emotional person, but I have been very proud of the fact that I haven't once cried at school over the situation.  Other teachers in somewhat similar situations as mine, have been in tears multiple times.  I'm the only one who still isn't in my classroom.  And had this been last year, the year before, heck, had this happened any other year, I'd have been in tears at school.

This year, instead, I'm holding it together at school.  All day long I'm able to stay upbeat and positive, and truly enjoying having time to be helping others.  Then I get in my car, and cry my way home.  I have cried my way to therapy twice this week, and cried my way home.  I cried my way to my nutritionist's office, and cried my way home.  And it's only Wednesday.

I have finally hit my breaking point, and tonight has been a tear-filled, messy, messy night.  I crashed into that wall hard.  And it hurts.

I know that by the time my students walk in on that first day (only 5 short days away) my room will be presentable.  It might not be up to my standards, but it will work, and when those smiling faces walk in, I will be smiling right back at them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I really like lemonade.  Like, it's one of the few "juice-type" beverages that I actually enjoy.  But only if it's fresh squeezed - that powdered crap?  Yuck.  To me it tastes like chemicals.  My therapist actually used this line on me the other day.  She started the sentence, but I cut her off... cause sometimes, it is true that lemonade just doesn't cut it.

This is one of those times.  I've been handed this bowl of lemons, and instead of making lemonade and giving it away so I'm holding less lemons, more lemons keep getting added to my bowl.  By the dozen.  And it is getting really heavy.  And it's all out of my control.

The good news (cause you know me, I always try to find something positive!) is that I know it will all work out in the end.  It always does.  The bad news is that my stress level is off the charts as my classroom was not finished on schedule.  It wasn't finished on the back up date.  In fact, it won't be finished until the holiday weekend.  Literally, that Friday.  Which means I'm in school on my three day weekend preparing my room, and during this time this week that has been designated as prep time in the classroom, I'm twiddling my thumbs.  Which I don't do well.

Believe it or not, once school starts my stress level will actually go down.  The excitement of a new year will kick in.  My days will be long, and I'll have worked in my classroom for 12 days straight, but come Tuesday morning when those kids arrive?  My stress level will trickle down, and maybe I'll be able to enjoy a glass of lemonade...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Challenge 7, Part 6: Beauty

For my final post in the Beauty week, I'm going to pull together a few old posts on the topic, and intersperse a few new quotes too.  I hope that when I revisit these posts, I'll be able to look back and believe they apply to me... believe that beauty does describe me, not just inside, but outside, too.  Thank goodness there is no time limit on inner work... cause it is going to take a long time to get there, but my team is pretty positive I'll make it... and they haven't been wrong yet!

Anyway... here are some past ponderings on the topic...
October 2011: What is Beauty?
March 2012: The B Word
April 2012: Beauty
June 2012: Soul    Face
August 2012: Health & Beauty

I like this quote in the topic of beauty, because I think we tend to close our eyes to what we really see, and stop looking for the beauty because we are so sure we won't find it within ourselves.  But as this quote says, when we look carefully.... those secrets that are hidden everywhere?  Chances are pretty good that they'll reveal the true beauty in which you didn't even realize you were looking for....

I really like this quote by Thoreau... because again, it is so true!  We can choose to see things however we'd like - meaning, if I am in a good mood, I tend to notice positive qualities- kindness, beauty, grace.... But if I'm crabby?  I see ugly, heartless negativity.  So look at this picture?  What do you see?  The beautiful sunset?  Pine trees glowing from the backlight of the clouds?  The telephone poles off in the distance that allow communication to happen so effortlessly?  Or do you see the stop sign?  What else can you see?  Do you see the beauty?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Challenge 7, Part 5: Beauty

I don't know about you, but there are sooooo many quotes out there swirling around the subject of beauty.  This one struck me because it mentions nothing of appearance or accomplishment.  Instead, it emphasizes that beauty is who we are when we are at our best.  Which means we can ALL be beautiful, despite what we might think, or what a number might say.  If we are working to be the best version of ourselves, and that radiates from the inside out.... well then, we are beautiful.  You, my beautiful reader, are being the best version of you, and that is true beauty.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Challenge 7, Part 4: Beauty

I think this one is pretty self explanatory.  Or at least I hope it is.  It's one of the few quotes I understand fully.  How I feel about myself is not supposed to be based on what I see.  What I see should not determine how I feel.  Right?  Right.

Have you heard the acronym for fear? FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.  I bring that up because when I look in the mirror, it seems that FEAR gets in the way.  FEAR seems to drive my image of myself.  I live in my own little reality, which I am frequently reminded isn't all that logical at times!  My perception of myself is absolutely false, according to my team.  While we might agree to disagree on that point.... well.... this quote is something I do agree with.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Can you smell it?

Where I live, the smell of autumn is in the air.  I like autumn.  It's one of my favorite seasons.  I love watching the leaves move into their colorful phase.  I love the sound of them as they crunch under my feet.  I love the smell of leaf piles smouldering mixed with the post season aroma of autumn barbecues.

Around here, the arrival of autumn means more than the sounds of kids and teachers returning to school and the colorful natural scenery.  It means that the short-but-sweet cider mill season has arrived!  I live within 30 minutes of a half dozen cider mill gems, one of them is where I have been going since before I was born (or so I've been told.)

Last year, for the first time ever, I didn't go.  I didn't go to *my* cider mill.  I didn't go to any cider mill.

My little buddy Ed wouldn't let me.

The smell of the freshly pressed, unpasteurized cider.... the aroma of the hot, fresh donuts.... the crisp apples..... the pies.... oh the pies!  All of it, full of sugar and calories.  Both of which I was avoiding.  I let my ed rob me of something I loved, something I cherished, a tradition I actually valued.

I will NOT be letting that happen again this year.  And while the season is still a week away from it's official beginning, I am posting this today as a way to remind me that I can once again, taste the sweet cider... while allergies prevent me from enjoying the pies and donuts, the crisp apples and fresh cheeses can still be mine.  The gooey, drippy, oozy honey, still with it's comb, can still be devoured on fresh, crispy, apples.

The short season begins Labor Day weekend and ends right after Thanksgiving.  That gives me two and a half months.  I'm going to go this season.  At least once.

Sorry little buddy.  You have no say in this anymore.  Probably shouldn't call you buddy anymore, either.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Challenge 7, Part 3: Beauty

I think this quote kind of speaks for itself.  I am sure we all know people who just have that *something* that you can't quite put your finger on.  They are beautiful people, inside and out.  Keeping in mind that no one is perfect, and we all have our shadow sides and our dark moments, of course... but we all have the potential to be beautiful, if not to ourselves, then to someone else, who thinks that we are beautiful just by being who we are.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Challenge 7, Part 2: Beauty

I love this quote, because it so succinctly speaks the truth: we've as a society have given so much power to the media, that we're not comfortable with what we see in the mirror unless it's what the media portrays.  At least, I know I'm not.  I loathe the skin I'm in for all of the pain it's caused me.  I'm working on improving my self image, and one day hope I can use the word beautiful when referring to myself.

It's one thing to have outer beauty, but to have that inner beauty is where I think the true comfort comes from.  I know that we all look around and judge others on their appearances, but we don't know their story, we don't know what they've been through, and they might be just as self conscious as we are, they might not like the person under the make up and clothing, either.  Inner beauty?  Comfortable in your own skin?  Definitely still my goal.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Challenge 7, Part 1: Beauty

Beauty... I feel like I've spent a good deal of time on this topic, and may end up repeating a quote or two here and there.  But to start, I think this quote is so incredibly powerful.  We all need to keep in mind that Beauty is not a single definition.  It is really not definable, because every individual has their own idea of beauty.  The media has placed their spin on what "socially acceptable beauty" is, but the reality of it is that less than 8% of the population fit the media's definition.  I don't know about you, but I'm working on my own way to define beauty.  And size has no place in my definition.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Challenge 6, Part 4: The Self

This quote is really fitting for ME right now.  I recently had a conversation revolving around how sensitive I am to feedback and criticism.  Don't get me wrong, as an educator I'm always open to any feedback or observations classroom visitors may have - on my classroom, on my teaching - whatever.  That is feedback and criticism I like.  What I don't like is when someone points out something to me in *that* tone of voice.  The one that is dripping with judgement.  The one that instantly shuts me down.  The one that dulls my sparkle.

A comment like that need be made only once, and I shut down the behavior that brought it about (even if it was a helpful behavior for me) - say, twirling a piece of hair whilst sitting in a lecture.  I had the person next to me (a fellow teacher) actually take my hand and pull it away when doing so.... said that was "kid" behavior.  I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself.  Truly, I hadn't even known I was doing it.  Having ADHD, I have a lot of coping strategies that help me focus better when I am stuck in a lecture of sorts, and hair twirling is one of them.

Anyway, what my recent conversation was about how I let ONE person dictate what I needed to do.  A person that wasn't my "superior" (though she is a senior teacher) and has no power over me.  I let her dull my sparkle.  What I learned from this recent conversation is that I don't have to stop doing what I'm doing and being who I am because one person (or even a few people) don't like what I'm doing, as long as it isn't impacting them (like, say I chose to poke the person next to me instead of twirl my hair... then they'd have the right to complain!)  I am ME.  There is only one ME.  With ME comes all my quirks.... It's those quirks that sparkle the brightest....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Challenge 6, Part 3: The Self

This one is still a struggle for me.  I think what it boils down to is I am still trying to figure out who I am.  I mean, I know that I'm a person, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend - all that stuff.  But really, who am I?

I've spent so much time being a chameleon, being the person that fits where I am at that moment.  In doing so, I never established a firm sense of self.  And that is one of the things I'm working on right now.

I read this great blog post from Surfacing After Silence about developing your own identity, or, more likely, finding your true self.  It definitely got me thinking about who I am and who I want to be.  I may be in my 30's, but it's never to late to do some self-discovery and create the me I want to be!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Challenge 6, Part 2: The Self

I found this quote to be very interesting.  It sounds so simple, kind of like rewording that golden rule.  But the way I look at it, it's actually quite complicated.  I want people to treat me nicely, with kindness and respect.  However, I have not quite fully learned how to speak up for myself, in regards to the fact that I avoid confrontation at all costs.  Meaning, if someone isn't treating me nicely and respectfully, I will just suck it up and take it.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and chalk it up to them having a bad day, and me being the one who absorbs it.  Do you see any problems with that?  Cause for a long time, I sure didn't!  Now, though, after going through enough therapy and enough recovery, I see that there is an alternative - I don't need to suck it up and absorb it anymore.  I want to be treated respectfully and kindly, and if someone isn't doing so, I am working to give myself permission to walk away.  Tell them "You know what, this isn't working for me right now, let's try again later," and just walk away.  Easier said than done, but I'm trying!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Challenge 6, Part 1: The Self

I picked this for my first venture on exploring "the self" because it's a feeling I've experienced a lot.  So many times in my life, I thought that people truly cared about me and valued having me in their life.  People actually wanted to spend time with me, and I gave my whole self to those friendships.  It's taken a lot of hurts to finally realize that sometimes when you invest too much, the relationship becomes unbalanced, and one day you wake up and realize the person you thought was your friend, isn't.  I see this as a positive quote, cause it shows that I've learned this lesson, cause I have not had to repeat it in quite a while!  It definitely wasn't a fun one to learn, either, but it was well worth it.  Sometimes you have to let people go so that you can take better care of yourself.  And that's worth it.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I have a question for everyone.  Like, a "please share your answer in the comment box" question.  Actually two questions.  And I'm utterly serious in saying I have no idea what the answers are.  I do know that there are as many correct answers as there are blades of grass in my front lawn, but my answer isn't out there, at least not yet!  These questions were posed to me this afternoon, and have left me seriously befuddled.  My hope in gathering answers from the amazing readers of this blog will help me be able to formulate and articulate my own answers.

Question 1:  What does it mean to be a grown up?  Physically?  Mentally?  Emotionally?

Question 2:  What do people fear about being a grown up?  Physically?  Mentally?  Emotionally?

Please do not be shy!  I will be ever appreciative of your input!

(P.S.  The term "adult" can be interchanged with "grown up"
 since technically, we never stop growing!)

Week 35: Turning Point

I can finally complete this week's topic!  I've been sitting on it for a while, and just couldn't find anything to write about.  This weekend, though, I was given a homework assignment from my therapist (very rare occurrence!) and found myself knee deep in old journals where I found it!  My turning point!  I actually even wrote in that entry "turning point:..." making it even easier for me to find!

There were several events that led to the turning point of my life, maybe you'd call them "mini-turning points" or something?  Dunno.  Anyway.  Here goes.

September 1995 - My teacher saved my life.  Literally.  I would not have made it through senior year of high school if she didn't find me that afternoon and rescue me from myself.

December 1996 - Wow!  There is life outside of the way my family lives!  I think I could learn to like this lifestyle! (Traveling as a nanny for an awesome family.)

May 1998 - ED behaviors escalate.... a lot....

August 1999 - Back in the saddle again!  Oh how I missed riding!

I am so not there yet...
December 2003 - Turning point.  Graduated from College after 6 1/2 years.  Hired on as a permanent sub at my school.  Never would have made it here if it weren't for my incredible teacher for my last course of college!  She saved my education!

June 2004 - Got hired!  In my own classroom!  MY CLASSROOM!  Yahoo!

August 2004 - Finally a homeowner (sort of) and moving out of their house!  Free at last!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Challenge 5, Part 3: Health & Beauty

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen. 
--Elizabeth Kubler Ross

<--- This is healthy self esteem.  Healthy self esteem can be very helpful on the quest for overall health!

We are --->
all beautiful, it just depends on what we see when we look in the mirror whether we believe it or not.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; 
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; 
and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. 
-- Audrey Hepburn

When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn't healthy.  This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits - anything that kept me small.  My judgement called it disloyal.  Now I see it as self-loving.
-- Kim McMillen


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Challenge 5, Part 2: Body Workings

How would I like to feel about my body?  Me?  You're asking me?  Are you sure you want to know?

The truth is that I would like to stop hating my body. Cause I do. Like, a lot.

Physically, my body is odd.  Let's just say that while I "appear" normal at first glance, or even at second and third glance, my body looks anything but.  I suffer from two health issues that are basically untreatable.  For the most part, I keep them very well hidden, or at least I try to.  Very few people outside my health care team are actually even aware of these problems.  They are not life threatening, instead, I have to learn to live with them.  You'd think after 30 something years, I'd be used to those two things by now, but I'm not.  I hate them.  I hate them every single moment of every single day.  I know that the only way to get over this is to learn to accept my body as it is, and I hope one day I can, cause living like this?  Not so fun.

In terms of function, this is where the guilt kicks in.  As much as I despise my body, there are others that I'm sure would be envious... envious that I have two strong legs that take me where I want to go.... I mean, my body, overall, does function, for the most part, as it should.  In general terms, I am relatively healthy, too.  I don't need special devices to communicate or use the restroom.  I can walk unaided, drive, read, eat, smell, hear - my senses work well (though sometimes I think I lack common sense!)  I am, outwardly, able to function perfectly normally.  And for the most part, that is accurate. 

It all comes down, as usual, to perspective.  I have a twisted ideal of myself that, with help, is slowly becoming untwisted and unraveled in the best possible way...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Week 34: Calming Down

I love this image of Hobbes. Telling me, and everyone else, to calm down.  It is kind of funny, because Hobbes was always the calming factor of the pair - Calvin, off creating mischief while Hobbes was looking for a sun filled spot on the rug to rest.  Which, by the way, is one of my favorite ways to calm down, too.  A quiet rest, curled up with a soft blanket.  Nap or not, just laying there resting helps.

I also like to do something repetitive, like bounce a ball, or toss something from hand to hand - something that requires no thought, but slowly becomes a mundane routine.  Even something simple like fiddling with a soft piece of cuddle fleece, weaving it through my fingers while curled up in the corner of the couch?  That does wonders for my hyperactive mind.

Finally, I often turn to music.  Like a fellow blogger in this project, music is a huge tool for bringing me back to Earth.  On the flip side, it can also pump me up, too.  I have playlists for just about every mood - I know which list to play if I'm feeling down in the dumps and want a good cry, which list cheers me up, which list makes me want to dance (when no one is looking, of course!) and which list will settle me down.  Music says so much more than I can ever say, and there is definitely something reassuring in that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Challenge 5, Part 1: The Ideal Body

I believe the ideal body is a healthy one.  And I'm learning that healthy really does come at any size.  Contrarily, so does unhealthiness.  I know someone who is absolutely tiny (does not have an ED) and eats a ton, but is considered unhealthy and malnourished.  On the flip side, I know someone who is obese, and is also considered malnourished.  It just goes to show that you really can't tell what is happening inside people based on an outward appearance.

Which is why I now believe that the ideal body is a healthy one.  Period.

And my body is not healthy.  In so many ways.... it is much healthier than it has been in years!  I've made a lot of progress in the health department.  But I still have a long way to go.  It's as if some areas have grown healthier, while others have deteriorated.  As if the original areas of disease were covering other ailments, which they probably were.

The good news?  (Yes, I try to always have good news!)  It is possible for me, and for everyone else, to become healthy.  Yes, there are always exceptions, but that is a whole different discussion that I'm not opening right now.  In general, EVERYbody can get healthy.  It takes determination, motivation, and a willingness to be uncomfortable.  But it IS possible.  It is up to you, up to me, whether we want to do the work to get that "ideal" body.  To be honest, sometimes I don't think I want to do the work it takes to get and be healthy.  Thankfully, my team won't let me fall too far, and eventually I come to my senses and realize that healthy is exactly how I want my body to be.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week 33: Prized Possession

Wow.  Most prized possession.  Does my house count?  Cause I am pretty proud of the fact that I, basically on my own, found a place to live, bought it (or am paying the mortgage) and have been fiscally responsible since moving out on my own.  It's quite a feat for me, actually.

But I'm not sure that a house counts as a possession.... So I guess.... well... I guess I'd say that I really value the pictures I have from when we had family gatherings when I was little.  Those are pretty special.  Back when I didn't realize how abnormal my life really was.

But that's a collection of things, so maybe that doesn't count either.... Alright.  I have it.  My most prized possession.

My teaching certificate.

It was a looonnnnggggg and rocky road getting through high school graduation and into college, and an even looonnnngggggeeeerrrr road getting through college.  When I got the phone call telling me I had gotten the job, my dream job in my dream building, in my dream grade?  All that was worth it.  The long journey to earn that teaching certificate has made me the teacher I am today.  Without that certificate, I would not be allowed to teach, to do what I love to do, and to work with the amazing kids and families that I do.  That certificate makes it all possible.  And I earned it. (And yes, 11 years after first earning that certificate, I still love my job and can't imagine doing anything else!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Challenge 4, Part 5 - 7: Belief, Acceptance, Love

Self Belief.  Self Acceptance.  Self Love.
Mushing them all together for one final post for this week's topic.

I think they are actually rather well connected.  In order to have self love, you need to have self acceptance.  In order to have self acceptance, you need to have self belief.  Links in the chain of Self.  All the topics this week weave together a rather complex chain in which we build our lives upon - some more successfully than others, but all seven concepts are within each of us.  Sometimes they are buried rather deep, below layers of other self stuff (hatred, loathing, pity, etc) but they are still there.  It's our job to uncover them.  Yes, it can take a village, as no one should have to endure the process alone.  But I've been told it's a worth while journey to take, no matter how bumpy the road.

I'm taking baby steps, every few weeks, just a tiny bit closer to self love.  Along the way, of course, belief and acceptance hitch a ride, making the journey rocky and long.  But I'm finally starting to think that I might be worth it.  It's not been easy, accepting all that I've dealt with, knowing I can do nothing to change the past and make things better.  I can only accept what has happened, and believe that I am worth more than repeating the same patterns.  I have to find the belief somewhere, buried way deep inside, that I am worthy of love.  Cause no one deserves a life without love.  Not even me.

Week 32: Inspirational Person

This summer, my support community expanded considerably.  In addition to the people I met that inspired this blog, I have become part of another blogging community, that has been wonderful in helping me continue finding words worth sharing along the journey.  While I don't know them personally, each of them, and the stories they share, inspire me.

I am so incredibly grateful for those that are
walking my road next to me...
I've written about S, K, and D before (you can read about them here.)  I've also written about JC, MJ, and E (and you can read about them here.)  And bear with me, cause I'm going to do a bit of repeating here...

E is my rock and the reason I am still here today.  The longer I work with MJ, the more inspired I become by her.  MJ and E are my motivation, my inspiration, and my surrogate parents.  I would not be here without them.  I don't even know if they realize it, but it's less about what they say that inspires me, and more about who they are and how they carry themselves.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say."  Both of these women carry themselves in a way that matches their words, that matches their teachings..... that draws me into their warmth and positivity, that motivates me to continue the journey..... that carries me on my dark days..... They inspire me to move forward in life, no matter how challenging things are.  And I can move forward, cause I know they are with me, even when I'm not with them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Distraction Box

I got this idea from a fellow blogger over at Swallow a Spider.  She created a box that contains safe distractions for when she's in a tough spot.  I thought it was a fantastic idea, and have started assembling my own box.  I really like the idea of having everything in one spot, easily accessible, in case of emergency.  Sometimes when I get into that state of desperate panic where I don't quite know what to do with myself, well, this box could be a pretty handy tool.

Taped to the inside of the lid are phone numbers, in order of who to call first, so I don't have to look should I be that frazzled.

I've included a small stuffie and a small scrap of my favorite, extra soft, snuggle fabric, which is always soothing.  There's a bottle of panic meds and Advil, just in case I need something more.  Also inside are crayons, colored pencils, and a sketch book, all good distractions and fun!  Additionally, I've included a photo and message from someone very helpful to me, and a few motivating quotes that I like.  I put in a book to read, one of my favorites, so it will be like revisiting old friends when I read it.  There's also a mini deck of cards and a twist/toy fidget.  The last thing inside is a small kids mp3 player with a special message and some of my favorite songs on it, along with headphones.  I picked it up very inexpensively for a project that I never used it for, and while I likely won't need it, I figured I'd put it in, just in case!

I still may put other things in, and the contents will likely change over time, but for now, I know that if I were in a tough spot, and I didn't know what else to do, pulling this box out would distract me, at least for a little while!  (And even better, putting it together was a great distraction in itself!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week 31: Smile!

What makes me smile.... Not a whole heck of a lot these days.  Which you may think is unusual cause it is summer, and summer is supposed to be full of fun and care-free days.  So as to avoid a major downer of a post, here are a few things that I hope make you smile.

AND, since laughter usually means you're smiling, take a peak at 
this post on laughter, I promise it will make you smile if you haven't already!

Challenge 4, Part 4: Self Respect

Please respect me as an introvert.  I'm trying to respect me as an introvert, too.

"The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others on how you 
demand to be treated.  Don't settle for anything other than respect."

"Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no 
longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy."

"Cutting people out of my life does not mean 
I hate them, it simply means I respect me."

I wish I could give credit to whoever spoke the words above.  

My therapist has helped me see how powerful self respect is, and how hard it can be to uphold.  I have a very hard time being around my parents, as I am often the wrongful target of their anger and frustration. Now when the attacks begin, I leave.  When they confront me for leaving later, I can now tell them, just because I left doesn't mean I don't love you. In my head, the second part of that sentence is I am just learning to love myself more.  Like I said - a year and a half later, and 9 out of 10 times, I can remove myself from the situation that is not healthy or respectful.  Yes it's hard.  Yes I often call my therapist in tears as soon as I leave.  But it's a step in the direction of self respect.  And that's the place in which I'd like to live.