A New Box Full of Trauma

I was thinking I could close the chapter on therapy and roll on down the road.

As it happens, 6 weeks of caring for grandma and working full time with one day off has pushed my stress levels back up to anxiety – producing, and I found a whole lot more trauma that hasn’t been addressed.

I never know what my brain will read as a threat. I am realizing that if I have a lot of stress I tend to start spinning with anxiety, and if I don’t have a way to back out of what’s causing me stress, something will inevitably trigger me. It feels like it comes out of nowhere, but if I think about it, I’m almost anticipating it. Because PTSD brain looks for trouble, looks for negative, likes to be destructive… Ugh.

Then I have to get to safety and quiet so I can start calming down. There’s no calming down when there are perceived threats around me.

Basically, I go home.

And try again tomorrow.

PTSD: Making My Life a Challenge Since 2013

I had the idea that I was ready to transition out of therapy, that I had pretty much resolved what I could and that it was time to manage things myself with the tools and information I’ve gained.

Then I realized over the last two weeks as a relationship began to quickly crumble that there is so much more to address. I’m really just now beginning to see how I respond to perceived threats, and how frequent and numerous those threats are, and how critical communication is.

One day I’m going to beat this.

Retail Therapy or Smart Move?

I’m about to blow some cash on makeup.

This is one of the days I just don’t have it in me. Work is high drama, grandma is high drama, I haven’t had much sleep and definitely no rest.

Although I stay fairly positive or let her constant negativity bounce off, I’m being pulled in a lot of directions, and I’m stuck in a dim apartment with no internet. My laptop replacement is on the way, my new phone is at my house, work is increasingly busy and I’m handling it all quite well.

But I cut desserts and mindless snacking, two of my comfort go -tos. Ugh.

I’ve had a rashy breakout around my eye for about six weeks, which I assumed was due to stress until I remembered this sometimes happens if my eye makeup gets contaminated. Usually a new tube sets me right, but this has been a little worse than usual and I want new everything. New makeup, new brushes, new bag, start over clean. And it feels a bit silly to spend that money when so much is up in the air at the moment, but…

I think that’s what I need today.

Protect Your House

I’ve watched a few people I know make poor choices in the last coupe of weeks that put people (and animals) close to them at risk. They let in harmful things because they weren’t willing to recognize and assess potential threats, and it cost them. In one case thousands of dollars in vet bills and in another the dissolving of trust and family.

I’m not sure what causes it, because I protect my house. I guard my close relationships carefully and try to protect them – sometimes even from the chaos in my brain.

For me, when someone or something is important to you, you don’t put it at risk. You don’t ignore the warnings and the intuition that harm is imminent. And if you do, that repair work is on you.

With PTSD I’ve had to work hard to understand this, because my brain reads and misreads threats all the time. I can become my own threat when anxiety becomes too much to handle, and I perceive a lot of things as threats that aren’t.

I’m trying to keep my responses balanced. Needs more practice.

Live Your Own Story

Friends of mine got engaged last night. She’s a trauma survivor with PTSD, and has struggled to accept that he accepts her. I’m thrilled for them, and reminded of what my life isn’t.

And also what it is.

It’s not someone else’s story.

I live firmly rooted in a reality that rarely remains centered on what I want, and often veers so far toward responsibilities, obligations and support for others that I often wonder if I’ll find my way back to myself. I do, because my roots run deep in the center, and as much as I get knocked sideways, I can pull myself back.

Again. And again. And again.

I get stretched a lot.

Controlled Burn

Where I grew up, we used controlled burns to manage land. Generations ago the landscape was much more open, and drought and lightning strikes did naturally what we do now with flamethrowers and fuel.

The fires have a purpose. They clear out brush and make way for new growth. They remove choking weeds and leave the larger trees to thrive with less competition for water.

Before anything was built or permanent, fire could sweep across the land in a natural cycle of burn and regrow. Once ranchers moved in, the need to stop fire became critical to protect what they’d built. The beneficial fires became destructive to the new elements of the landscape, but were still needed for ecological health.

Wildfires were considered bad for a few generations, until we understood how necessary they are. We now use controlled burns to have the benefit without the total destruction. You have to monitor conditions, play it smart and be prepared for things to go horribly wrong. And a lot of the time you pray.

It’s not a bad analogy for where I’ve found myself. Had I let a few things burn, I might not have had so much catch fire outside my control. Had I prepared, I might not have had to scramble so hard to try to get things under control. Clearing out needed to happen one way or another, I just got the wildfire instead of the controlled burn.

New growth comes regardless.

I Might Have Been Who I Was Meant To Be

I’ve been feeling change the last month or so, like it’s time to move into a new phase of recovery. Once upon a time I think I might have been who I was meant to be. I’m starting to feel like I’m there again. This there is different from that there, but I’m there, and I don’t want to be stuck in a place of not-fully-realized me.

Convoluted, much?

I’m working out what it is that I want, what I can live with, what I can live for, how much capacity I really have and just how much I’m willing to let go.

If I ignore much of what my therapist says about how to put myself first, if I go my own way about this, if I stop fighting, if I move to a state of free – flow giving… What happens?

If I open my hands and let go, if I let what returns to me stay, if I don’t hold on but hold out a hand… What happens?

If I stopped worrying about how you feel or don’t feel about me and be who I am regardless, what happens?

If I stop worrying about whether I have enough to give and just give what’s there, what happens?

I don’t want to hold the negativity that surrounds me. I’d rather let it flow in and back out because it doesn’t have a place with me. I’d rather have so much outflow that it can’t flow in. I’d rather trust that God provides and that’s enough, one less thing to concern myself with and one more thing to observe with gratitude.