As I was listening to Brené Browns’s Power of Vulnerability, her comments about what a terrible thing repressed creativity is stayed with me. After spending three weeks almost solely in survival brain and only in the last week starting to get some higher level brain function back (yay!), I have been struggling with any creative thinking of any kind. It seems generally out of my reach. However, I started making beaded earrings on a whim in an attempt to practice some kind of creative expression. I think I’ll keep it up for a bit and see what happens.
As hard as it was to be in a relationship before I started putting focus and energy into healing, it’s even harder now. And possibly more so because I’m dating a person who hasn’t yet begun the process.
As I’m “catching up to now”, processing unprocessed trauma, one of the hardest things for me about processing trauma is reliving it. Having to feel things I didn’t the first time because I was shut down or unable to while I was trying to survive what was happening.
Last year my parents were going away for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary early. They never went because my brother’s work injury happened on Thursday.
Fast forward a year and some change, and my parents are going a couple of towns over for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary. I am completely freaked out and have to stay close to home.
Because it’s a trigger. Because my brain tells me that my brother gets hurt when my parents plan to go out of town. If I go somewhere I won’t be available if there is an emergency. THERE IS GOING TO BE AN EMERGENCY.
This is now affecting my willingness to move forward with my travel plans, because I HAVE TO BE HOME THIS WEEKEND quickly turns into I CAN NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE. I go through waves of panic the whole time I’m trying to calm myself and disconnect the things that don’t belong together – trauma and my parents leaving town.
I got four solid days of work in this week, and I’m glad for that because yesterday I had to retreat back into processing space to deal with this.
I have taken my sweet time to read it, but I’m back to working through The Mindfulness Toolbox: 50 Practical Tips, Tools and Handouts for Anxiety, Depression & Pain.
This section struck me, because it speaks directly to the blurb I wrote about my blog about being a person that likes to get from point A to point B:
An outcome orientation is focused on the future, which often produces worry or anxiety about achieving a desired outcome. In a very real way, it saps the enjoyment and curiosity out of the experience itself.
Learning how to change focus from outcome to present-moment process can be a powerful experience. Most importantly, it reduces anxiety that comes from focusing on expectations and outcome-oriented thinking.
Here are a few examples of outcome orientation:
- Learning for the sake of getting that “A” on a test or report card
- Finishing a work task on time
- Focusing solely on a sports training goal or time
- Getting that promotion at work
- Receiving the highest review from a supervisor
- Making sure the house is always spotless
- Comparing one’s progress against that of others
By shifting awareness to the most minute and tiniest details of one’s experience, the process orientation comes into the foreground. This practice also trains the brain to stay in the moment.
I knew I needed to make an orientation adjustment, and now I know why.
There is a lot from my past that I want nothing to do with. People and places that are tied to traumatic experiences are just…I’m out. Even if that person didn’t do anything negative to me, there are just some things that I would rather leave in the past.
I was working retail when the car wreck happened, and a combination of a super-hateful and negative, passive-aggressive coworker, getting betrayed by my bosses and having undiagnosed PTSD while working 20+ hours a weekend and going to grad school 12 hours a semester during the week…I don’t even want to see former customers. Yesterday I saw a woman with whom I had developed really great rapport at the store, and I was so glad I managed to slip by her unnoticed. I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to bring up that period of my life, I didn’t want to talk about what I’m doing now and I really don’t want to talk about how I’m doing now. I had two good days followed by a rough day, and it was enough that I worked almost a full day in spite of the down day and cooked meals for myself, handled some business for my grandma, reached out to my completely checked out boyfriend and still engaged in some mindfulness work. I didn’t need that shit too.
And I feel no need to face any of that head-on. I think avoiding these things is fine. I think knowing my limits is fine. I think loving myself enough to choose myself and my own well-being over social norms and obligations is fine. And if I’m fine with it, that’s all that matters to me.
Several years ago I started experiencing TMJ. My jaw popped every time I opened or closed my mouth. It was horribly annoying. I don’t chew gum, so it wasn’t that. It was probably stress. I was told there was nothing that could be done about it, and I would just have to live with it.
I realized on Saturday that my jaw no longer pops. I have no idea how long it hasn’t been popping, but it doesn’t no matter how much I move my jaw. I am thrilled and grateful and excited and pausing to appreciate this moment of healing.
On the plus side, I’m venturing out of my hole.
Most of my family was in town Saturday. A year ago during our annual get together my brother was barely out of the hospital following a work accident, and I was handling…a lot. I knew Friday that I still hadn’t processed that trauma. Saturday night I was sobbing after listening to my parents tell my aunt and uncle all of the details of what has happened since. I should have walked away, but I didn’t, and by the time I got a few minutes to myself that was it – I couldn’t stop crying.
What followed was my boyfriend abandoning me while I was grieving, movies with my family the next day and trying to recover a bit, a full day on the road for work on Monday, boyfriend basically ignoring me at dinner for a stranger next to us, me having enough and leaving, boyfriend later (and finally) owning up to what was going on with him (beginning to understand how traumatic experiences have impacted him, which…welcome to my hell) and me talking him through opening up about it, me working another full day today like a boss and still not a priority for him and the signs are all there this isn’t going to work, and I am going to have to tell my business partner this week that we need to go our separate ways.
Healing is HARD AF, and I was going to go for a walk in the heat but my stomach hates me today and I have a feeling I’m a bit dehydrated and walking in 102 degrees will likely just make me sick.
So I’m going to catch up on all of the personal business I didn’t get done in the last couple of weeks, give myself a break for not exercising today and be proud of myself for practicing discipline and organization.