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.
Using anxiety management tools is hard. I went a bit too long without eating yesterday, which can be an issue for me as my blood sugar will drop and that by itself will send anxiety skyrocketing and potentially trigger me. I had to get food, I was about a ten minute drive from food, as as I noticed my irritability increasing and my decision-making abilities decreasing, I was also trying not to lash out, cry, leave and just go home, eat something that might make me feel ill (and therefore worse) or do or say something regrettable. I was also trying to communicate the urgency of the situation to someone who neither understood nor made any effort to help me solve the problem – I was left on my own to leave on my own, get food on my own (make decisions that were, in that state, nearly impossible for me to make) and make a decision about whether to return or go home.
That was a lot of drama for a sandwich.
But I got in my car, headed to town, picked a place with relatively healthy (but quick) food options, ordered and interacted with people as if nothing was wrong, chugged a lemonade for the sugar then ate a high-protein sandwich right after.
I still had to wait about half an hour till I calmed down, and I stayed a bit fuzzy, but I noticed, I responded and I took care of myself instead of going to pieces and being helpless. And my brain got a message that yes, I can handle it.
PTSD is a universe of fear. Sometimes the fear is crippling. Half the time I don’t even know what it’s about.
To combat that, I’m trying to do something every day that is brave and authentic.