Healing from PTSD is not easy, and it’s not a linear process. I would prefer it were, because it’s hard to be making progress and have a setback. It’s like tripping and going face first on the ground when you’re walking and starting to think about speeding up.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety this week. I’ve made so much progress in managing anxiety that I’d forgotten how bad it can be and how exhausting. My therapist checked with me on Monday if I’m still using Xanax? I haven’t touched it this year. But this week I could have, I had such a hard time managing it.
I wiped out today. I slept late, went to see a movie with my mom, got super car sick/ low blood sugar sick on the way home, ate something and went to bed.
Have I mentioned how much I hate keto? My body does not like low carb.
I watched TV for a bit then napped for a few hours until a call woke me up. I ate dinner, then went back to bed, still wiped out. I felt every bit of mentally ill that I am.
I took it for what it was, a reminder to slow down and let my body catch up. A chance to practice self care. A lesson in the benefits of mindfulness and putting myself first. Loving myself and showing myself compassion. New and good things.
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.
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’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.
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.