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.
I spent the entire Summer Solstice inside, and most of it in a dimly lit room. I’m grateful that I have so much room for improvement. Yoga was not helpful yesterday, it was activating. So I stopped.
I started listening to Brené Brown’s book The Power of Authenticity yesterday. She’s a shame researcher and a delightfully authentic human. In her work she’s found that we experience shame the same way we experience trauma, and I want to heal from shame as much as I want to heal from trauma. I’m starting to understand why they often go hand in hand.
I wanted to do a yoga session and thought that would be within my bandwidth today. 11 minutes in, I realized I was getting activated on my way to a trigger, I was hot and sweaty but not in an “I’m exercising” way, I wasn’t enjoying it and was actually starting to be rather miserable.
I wanted to push through, because yoga is supposed to be a good thing, it isn’t supposed to be activating, it’s supposed to help me connect to my body, I didn’t want to be a quitter, it wasn’t even a hard practice…also I am too fat to get into some of the poses, I can’t believe I can’t do this right now, I’ll never be able to get my life on track…
Ah. The shame gremlins she talked about. The thoughts that make me = bad and wrong and not good enough.
I stopped the session. Yoga wasn’t right for me yesterday. Maybe because I was in the process of learning about shame and realizing how much shame I feel about my body. Maybe because I needed more rest (I hiked for two hours the day before). Maybe because I needed to experience recognizing what is good for me and what is not good for me and acting on that for myself, not because someone else said that was the way to do it.
I’ve noticed the last two nights my heart rate has been about 25 beats per minute higher than it should be. No wonder I’ve had a hard time going to sleep. I’m laying in bed, trying to get everything to slow down for sleep time, and my body is ready to flee in terror. I’ve tried breathing, but for me it’s a small and very temporary fix any time I try it. Thinking about something else is hard to do because I’m mentally responding to my body’s flight preparations. Maybe I don’t like the dreaming and processing on a subconscious level?
Last night’s dream seemed to be about setting boundaries, something I will need to do a lot of work to get better at doing. There were a bunch of animals in a setting with people and I finally had enough and started hauling them over to their pens to get them and their disruptive behavior out of the way of the people. Once they were through the gate, I didn’t care what happened so long as they stayed on their side. Other people noticed and expressed concern, but I had done my part and gotten them out of my way.
Curious to see if setting boundaries is any easier for me now or if it still presents the same challenge and I still just avoid it.
I slept hard and dreamt again. While I don’t remember much of the dream, I knew very shortly after I woke up what it was about. I was processing having a hidden illness.
I don’t know if it’s because I could realize it or because it was processed, but I don’t feel hung up on having an invisible illness anymore. It doesn’t feel like a burden or weight to have experiences that no one else can see. I don’t feel a need to run around shouting about being broken by trauma, but I also don’t feel my usual aversion to humans in the context of debating whether to hide or reveal my struggles. I simply feel neutral on the topic, and that whatever I choose to hide or reveal is exactly that – my choice.
I’ve made a few steps forward in being regulated – I brushed my teeth and went to bed on time last night. The next step for me is beginning to journal.
I had a post-trauma ritual of recording re-traumatizing experiences as a sort of recorded narrative that served to reinforce the trauma rather than release it. For that reason I have a negative association with journaling. When my therapist suggested I try it, I was not interested until she pointed out that may be something I take back – reclaim as a beneficial thing instead of a negative. I think it’ll help me to sort out the dreams, the slowness and the feeling that only my lowest level cognitive abilities are functioning.
And I am not going to go buy a new journal and go through some ritual of needing a new book and a new pen and nice writing and whatever. I am using the small, blank book the stalker gave me the day I met him in Paris. That day and what happened after made my experience of enjoying myself and attracting energy a liability, and I have not been that person – A PERSON I ENJOYED IMMENSELY – since. Maybe this will help reclaim that too.
I avoided hard today. I had more dreams last night and woke up overwhelmed, so it was hard to get my brain together enough to get up and on with my day. I handled the phone call and meeting I had to attend and commiserated with my brother over his girlfriend dumping him with no explanation (real explanation is her parents are crazy and constantly interfered). I finished the set of earrings I’ve been working on that don’t look anything like I wanted them to (I need different beading thread that isn’t as stiff). I didn’t do much else. I feel like I can’t do much else, and the earring was just to keep my hands busy while I watched some tv after the meeting to help calm myself down and detach.
I thought a lot about self care and routine for me. I can barely make myself shower, brush teeth and wash dishes right now, and I’m trying to work out in my head that if those are the only things I tell myself I have to do the rest of the week and not the other stuff (work, etc.), maybe they won’t seem so daunting?
The hard thing for me about taking this time out to let my brain process is that I don’t know how long it will take. It felt like things were starting to look up yesterday, which is maybe why today is that much more difficult. I declined again today instead of improving, and I really want to improve so that I can get to doing and being what I want to do and be. As so many of you know, if your head isn’t in the right place for that, it’s nearly impossible, and I forced myself through for long enough that I can’t even really do that anymore.
I’ve realized over the weekend that I can come across as cold. My guardedness toward potential triggers, being overwhelmed and not being able to control or escape things I don’t like leaves a bit of a snarky shell, and it’s not a good look.
As I’ve given myself the time to rest, sleep and dream so that my brain can get busy processing (and has it been busy processing!), revelations about what things I don’t like about myself are coming to the forefront. So.
I’m not sure how I feel about letting my guard down, but I do know I want to be less cold. I can pretend in social situations in which it feels expedient to be talkative and responsive, but none of that gets below the surface. So.
Time to practice being less cold.