Done for the Year

My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful.

I mentioned in therapy yesterday that I am done with 2017. I’m done with work, done with social engagements and all I want to do is sleep in comfy pajamas and bake in between reading books and sipping tea. Really, in two more weeks I can do that, but I don’t want to wait two more weeks. Even a week and a half.

I think a lot of other people are feeling this. We’re done. This year was rough, there has been a LOT of trauma and anxiety and negative energy, and I want to just bubble up and pretend it doesn’t exist for a bit. My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful. I want to do things that bring me joy and that are gratifying to others. I’ve spent so much energy trying to hold it together this year that I am depleted and in need of rest, rest I haven’t taken the time for because…reasons.

Maybe a re-frame is better. Maybe I’m not done for the year, maybe I’m done expending energy on anxiety for the year. Maybe I’m done expending energy on externalities for the year. Maybe for the rest of the year my energy will go toward positive things that bring me joy rather than black holes of negativity. I think I’ll be in a much better position to give in the new year.

A Hero Stepped In

I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to replace the light. Wrong.

I’m pretty used to doing things myself. While it would be ungrateful and selfish on my part to claim that I don’t get help and support, I often don’t have what I need. People see competence and assume I can handle it, because I mostly do. I don’t see a choice, and asking for help often seems unnecessary because I can usually figure it out.

I meet up with my business partner every Saturday morning to walk several miles and talk business, the world and gossip. It’s great fun, and I pick up bagels for his wife and I on my way. He doesn’t eat gluten so I usually get the side eye, but I live for Saturday morning bagels. Client’s Brother, who I will call David, has had a lot going on the last few days, and we finally got to catch up last night. He asked if it was too late for me to come over and I said yes, because bagels and because I had early morning plans and because I was feeling a bit skittish after a couple of days of not really knowing what was going on or how I fit into things. Laken, your advice was great, I was just supportive and held myself in check a bit. It paid off, because I counter offered to come over this morning with bagels after walk and talk, and it was well worth being supportive and understanding and not reacting based on my worries for a couple of days. We had a lovely day together, and stayed in a couple bubble.

Until I left and he noticed I had a headlamp out on my car.

It has been very cold here and the wildlife are out frisking around. He lives a bit out of town and was concerned about me driving home at night with a light out, so he dug around under my hood until he figured out how to remove the burned out light. I had just enough time to get to the nearest car parts store to get a new one, and I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to replace the light.

Wrong.

A couple hours later, after I had called to let him know neither I nor the guy at the car parts store could figure this out, he had removed the low beam light and all of its housing and wires and whatever and put it all back together with the new bulb. In the cold. In the dark. With a manual that was not nearly as helpful as it could have been. He didn’t once complain or get overly frustrated or say anything negative to me, he was just happy that I was safe and he could do something for me. Same way he’s calmly knocking down my walls, taking care of me and making me think that whatever magic it is that we have could actually work out.

Tora! 

Client’s Brother and I started dating two weeks ago, and I’m already itching to sabotage our relationship. It’s easier than working through things. 

There’s a movie titled Tora! Tora! Tora!, which was controversial for depicting both the American and Japanese sides of the Pearl Harbor attack, 76 years ago today. The title words are Japanese, roughly translating to “lightning assault”. It dramatized the events leading up to Pearl Harbor less than 30 years after Dec 7, 1941, and so many people were angry that the Japanese would be portrayed as anything other than heartless monsters. They were the enemy!

Broken relationships start wars. 

Not all wars are one that scale. Some are much smaller. Some are with ourselves. I war a lot with myself. 

Client’s Brother was supposed to let me know when he was free to hang out today, which he never did. I knew something was off, and finally asked if he was ok. Lots of reasons came tumbling out, resulting in him tackling a project and shutting out the people who have been clawing at him today. I didn’t get shut out, he was just less communicative than usual until I asked what was up. No problem, I’ve been there, and we had plans to meet up for my friend’s birthday dinner. 

It unexpectedly snowed, and he didn’t want to make the drive. Totally fair, and I had already said I didn’t mind if he skipped dinner since he’d had a rough day. I called him on my way to dinner, and we talked for some time. He keeps talking when we’re on the phone. I don’t mean that negatively, it just surprises me that he wants to talk with me so much. Three hours last night when I finally said I needed to sleep. I had to get a table though, and didn’t want to be rude to the hostess so I said I’d call back. 

In the time it took for me to be seated, he had gotten another call and said via text he’d cal me right back. That didn’t happen. 

This is where I’ll insert that my abusive ex used communication – or lack thereof – extensively in manipulating me. Now that I’m clear of him and can see how he treated me I’m horrified. I’m also really skittish and it doesn’t take a lot to trigger my flight response. This is the only thing I’m aware of that is flight as not fight for me. I fought for a relationship once, and it nearly destroyed me. Now I’m ready to bounce with the slightest reason. 

I texted a picture of dinner to him and he let me know his good friend’s aunt had just passed and he and his friend were both devastated. Life changes in a moment, doesn’t it? I expressed my sympathy and said of course he should go and I’d let him know when I got home. I’ll spare you the exchange, but I gave him space and he thanked me for it. Of course. 

But I’m ready to bounce, or worse, sabotage this relationship before it even has a chance. It’s so much easier to just walk away than it is to deal with all the triggers, all the memories and all of the realization of just how much damage my ex did to me. I hate this. I hate that after two weeks this is where my head is. He’s been dealing with shit all day, is now in the middle of grief and loss and I’m ready to return to my ice castle. No thanks, I’d rather avoid further messiness in life, I’ll stay in my fortress.

@#$$%^^&*

Flashbacks in the Rain

I almost died in a car wreck that happened in the rain. For the most part (and thanks to EMDR and a lot of therapy) I don’t really have problems anymore when I drive. When I do, I have coping skills that work well. So today was a pretty big surprise when I was driving in the rain on my way to a meeting and started having flashbacks, not about my car wreck, but about the day of my brother’s accident. Clear as anything were the memories of getting the call from my mom, picking up his truck, sitting in the ICU waiting room unable to pray and barely able to hold it together, leaning on the prayers and shoulders of friends.

I’ve rarely had flashbacks of my own trauma, much less that of someone else. And while that day was traumatic for me, it hasn’t had nearly the impact that my own trauma has.

As I began to write this post, I also began to ask why and to process what happened this afternoon. I’m dreaming again… I’m processing again… I’m resolving trauma again.

I am done being afraid of the hold the past has on me. I’ve survived this much this long, and I can deal with whatever else boils up. But this was interesting, because as much as the flashback experience while driving on slick roads was not pleasant, it didn’t shake me. I’m now more curious about it, about where it came from and why that day?

I dream when I’m relaxed or when I am processing. Emotions, events – they all get run through my dream cycles in full color and epic drama. I don’t dream the exact thing, I dream versions of it, or nothing at all related. I started dreaming again this week after a long time off. My resting heart rate is slowly dropping, I’m a little more calm during the day and now memories are emerging that probably haven’t been dealt with. The human brain is fascinating.

Am I excited by this? Nope. Am I afraid of it? Also nope. Gonna deal with it and move on…

!!20170401_165514

 

Getting Me Back

Sex and dating have been the last big issues I haven’t really dealt with post-PTSD. I didn’t have to, so I didn’t, and figured I’d deal with it when I had to. Well, now I have to if I want this relationship to continue. Which I do, because Client’s Brother is an incredible surprise, and I’d like to see where we go. He knows I still have a lot of shit to work through, and he’s kind and compassionate about it. Since I have a giant question mark about my reactions to everything (post-assault I am pretty skittish about, well, everything), I have no idea what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not. I have so many negative emotions about sex and dating, and changing that is going to take time and energy that I don’t yet have available for this. He’s walking through this with me, and I couldn’t really ask for more. It’s quite wonderful.

As I’m rolling into the end of the work year and things slow down for about a month, I have some space to step away from the office and focus on myself. It’s time I really need to do this, to get ME back. I need to form different coping habits, need to resolve some background noise and pursue some things that bring me joy, things that I haven’t had the energy to pursue. As much as the recovery process is central to my life, I’m ready to move beyond recovery and be more than the anxiety and scars. I think that identity was ok for a while, and I think it gave me a bit of shelter, but I’m more than the scars and want to be more than the anxiety. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t start things on Mondays and I try to avoid high-expectation change scenarios. I’d rather start something on a Tuesday in April. So no end-of-year or new year plans, just seems like the right time to push myself forward a bit and regain some of what I like about myself.

Dates = 2, Me = 0

This guy is going to think I have no elegance, and that couldn’t be further from reality.

Surprisingly (my dating history inspires no confidence in the activity), dating Client’s Brother is still going well. I might even give him a real name next week.

Dates, however, have resulted in a 50% injury rate for me.

On our first date I scalded the hell outta my throat eating pizza that was way too hot. I almost only ever get it takeout or delivery, and in that case I can eat it straight away with no problem. I somehow missed that it would not be so eating pizza right out of the oven. I also did not want to spit out my food. It took 5 days to recover.

Yesterday we went for an afternoon hike along a creek on a moderate trail. There’s a bit of climbing around and walking on rocks to cross the creek in places, and while it was warm enough that the water wouldn’t freeze us, no one wants to hike in wet shoes. We were on the last creek crossing on the way back to the cars and I had carefully made it across. He was ahead of me and kept going when he got to the bank, I stepped on the bank, my left foot slipped and I crashed into a bush, cutting my ankle on the rock I slipped on in the process. Yeah, that’s an attractive quality in a hiking partner.

When I realized I was neither injured (hadn’t seen the cut yet) nor impaled on the bush branches, I started laughing at myself. Whatever, spills happen. I did have a branch of the bush stabbed through the band of my Fitbit next to my wrist, and how that happened without even scratching me I have no idea. By this time Client’s Brother realized I wasn’t behind him, and he and the dog came back to see what was up. I was still laughing at myself and getting off the ground, and the dog kindly removed the stick from my arm. Good puppy.

None of this kept us from kissing in the car before we headed off to separate obligations, and I found the cut when I got home. I almost never have this kind of thing happen to me, but ya know, ya fall down, ya get up, and I’m thankful that I could laugh at this spill.