I have the new phone, the new laptop is here and I’m still rigging my way around the challenges of staying with my grandma.
I unintentionally slowed my roll on mindless stress eating this week. I mean I know I cut way back on sugar and gluten, and I mostly quit snacking, but I don’t know that it was with some big diet intention.
I sit around a lot in a dark apartment, and this crisis wasn’t going to make me gain weight too, is all.
My PTSD brain likes sugar. So. Much. Sugar, carbs and fat are my drug of choice since I don’t smoke and rarely drink, and right now my brain is pissed that it’s not getting what it wants.
Y’all. I didn’t even get any food at Chick-Fil-A when I stopped by for my free bottle of water.
My brain is so pissed.
I had the idea that I could only did this when I was in a low stress time and could really delve into food and fitness changes. Once again I’m surprising myself with what I can do with mindfulness.
And a new makeup bag to fit all of my new makeup…
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.
Since moving in with my grandma a month ago to care for her after she fell, I have very little free time. I stay with her 100+ hours a week, and am still working 40-50 hours a week. Last night was maybe the second time in a month I’ve slept in my own bed. It was wonderful. And it wasn’t nearly enough.
Skipping the exhausting experience of caring for an older relative for now, I’ve learned in the past month to live in the moments I have free. Rather than chaining myself to my obligations and responsibilities, I take every free moment, whether I’m in the shower at her apartment or driving to or from a project to just live. No mindless existence, sulking about how much has been thrown at me. No accepting my restrictions as unchangeable. Living. And enjoying it.
I’m packing as much into those free moments as I can, whether it’s meetings over coffee or blowing calories on Whataburger or sending birthday cards or getting my garden seedlings transplanted before the rain hits.
I am so limited. I refer to those 100+ hours as jail. But I’m finding freedom in the restrictions. I’m ironically thriving. My relationships are improving. I’ve maintained my weight (usually I pack on pounds during times of intense stress). I have plans. Not plans to travel or go to brunch or do the things that might typically be enjoyable. It’s smaller. More intentional. And so much more than I’ve done previously.
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.
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.
Or is it?
Everything feels like it’s on slo-mo. I sit in a dim apartment day after day, providing care, working some, on the phone giving encouragement and support. I have no idea where the three weeks have gone since my grandma fell, but they’re gone, and I’m still here, and I’m starting to forget I used to do other things.
That giving free-flow? It seems to be working. Not every moment, but mostly. The laptop needing to be replaced? Not a big deal, just an inconvenience. Needing a new phone? Another inconvenience that will wait until I can get to it. Long, sleepless nights and up at 3 and again at 6 to provide care? We’ll both just settle in the living room and sleep in before I make French toast. Because I can and because it’s nice. Phone blowing up? It’ll wait. I need another hour of disturbed sleep.
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.