The Long and Unlikely Road to Bettering Self

I have a constant urge to be better, whatever that means. I don’t have a clear idea of what “better” looks like, I just know that for a long time I haven’t been satisfied with where I am, and I want things to be different. I know that to great extent I can effect change within myself, and I can accept that I can do (functionally) nothing about anyone else, and that has put me in a place over the last few months that has gotten me really curious – about myself, my abilities, where I am with PTSD and where I want to be instead, what it looks like to love myself and care for myself and make myself a priority and what I can and cannot tolerate in my own behavior and that of others.

I don’t have that many “good” days, days that I feel energetic and interested in life and happy and motivated to leave the house. I push through most days, trying to not drop back down the hole while I try to do the things that research and a lot of smart, caring people think might have the best chance of getting me where I want to go. I’m starting to oscillate a bit, I think – I’m having noticeably more stints of positive and motivated than I’ve had in a few years. I’m definitely more awake and aware, and am staying less in the dark hole and am peeking out at the world more. I’m thinking more about doing things that I enjoy and have taken a few small steps that I don’t seem to have backtracked. I’m seeing some ripple effects from my changes and it’s cool. I like to think that building better energy around myself has the potential to positively radiate out, and I’ve lived with negativity for so long that it’s a nice change.

But, I still have the question of what better looks like and what I need to do to get there.

Waking Up Lonely

There are times that my introspection becomes overwhelming. I haven’t yet learned to moderate it – although I was so numbed out for years that there’s a lot built up.

I really miss having a lot of people over for meals. I used to entertain quite a bit, and had a large group of friends and acquaintances who were happy to appear at my command when I wanted to cook.

I love to feed people, and I love to cook. Which I no longer do.

My family has been through a lot in the past two years, and through part of that and prior to the start of a series of traumas I cooked for everyone. I liked it, and was good at it. Now that my mom isn’t working and has turned her energy to caring for my grandmother, she has pushed me out of the kitchen. It’s her domain, right down to washing the dishes.

My mom was not a good cook when I was a kid. I have zero good memories of her food, and a lot of bad ones. It’s different now, and she makes great food, but she also leaves no room for me to do what I love.

She gets really anxious about cooking for holidays. I mean weeks of freaking out and planning and more freaking out and lunch two hours late and panic about the turkey not thawing in time. Every. Holiday. So I started cooking holiday meals myself, because I like it, it’s not hard for me, I can do it to the nines in 5 hours, it’s perfectly cooked and timed, and mom doesn’t stress us all out. And I get to feed people, which I love.

But now that’s she’s back in charge of the kitchen, we’re back to the unnecessary anxiety of Thanksgiving. I say unnecessary, I don’t know what it is that bothers her so much, she’s not one to discuss feelings. I do think it’s unnecessary because she knows she can just let me handle it. But she doesn’t. I’ve been pretty much ignored, and this morning she was going on about making my brother her sous chef to get things prepped tonight so that she doesn’t have to do them tomorrow. She would also rather cook everything tonight and microwave it tomorrow.

No.

I feel pretty ignored by my mom, which is usual since I’m the only one with an (mental) illness that she has not stepped in to help, and she seems to have forgotten how smoothly things have gone the last five years when she just let me cook. And now she and my brother, who get really extra around each other, will be spreading their manic energy all over the kitchen, which was once my place of calm. And I’m going to…find something else to do, or else suck it up and join, because these are not two people who reflect much on their own issues and behavior.

Yeah, I know, get my own place, do something else (i.e. leave the country) for holidays, tell them how I feel, etc. But you also know that family isn’t that easy, and that doing the best thing for yourself often has consequences that you’d rather avoid. I would. So here we are.

Practicing Vulnerability

There’s a lot of backstory to it, but my relationship with my boyfriend has been challenging, and I have felt like I’ve been pushed to a place of calling it quits. We’ve both had to learn a lot about ourselves and communication in the last year, and recently I’ve been faced with a choice of pushing past all of that and being vulnerable and honest and starting – and leading – hard conversations, or quitting.

I really wanted to quit.

It’s so much harder to be honest with myself and with him, to say the things that aren’t fun to say, to draw the lines and hold to them, to lay out the situation without making threats, to set boundaries without making selfish demands and to practice love when I have no idea if it will be returned.

It’s exhausting.

I’ve had moments of bright, happy and cheerful the past two days, which quickly tips over into what feels more like manic than actually happy and calm, but I’m still mostly struggling through the confining, dark depression of PTSD. It doesn’t help to be constantly triggered while trying to work through communication and behavior course corrections

I want to take a break from all of it.

But as we know, life doesn’t stop. And if anything, I’m proud of myself for not giving up on me.

I’d Rather Go Play

It has been a long week and a half for me. A lot of travel, a lot of cold, exposure to a lot of germs I am sure, a lot of conflict that was REALLY HARD TO RESOLVE and a lot of time-crunched work. And a lot of sleep, because when my body doesn’t want to wake up IT DOES NOT WANT TO WAKE UP.

I have a self-imposed work deadline today that is completely unnecessary and that goes against what I want to work on toward balancing my day. I like to rush to get things done and put off taking care of myself until I finish a task, but that CLEARLY isn’t working for me, so now I need to practice managing my time and workload to make space for well-being. Which is probably why I want to go play. After putting my head down and working through what I just did, I want to just skip around and smile! And I can…as soon as I meet this deadline

3 For 3

I’m home, I’m starting to experience the severe anxiety that usually comes after a work trip, and I am 3 for 3 this week! I had great receptions to both of my project presentations and succeeded in securing the permit my client needed to move forward with their business! It can be so hard to work with PTSD (it can be so hard to do anything with PTSD), and I am certainly in need of some calming and self-care, but I did it!

HRV Tracking

The new wearable tech is here, and I’ve been checking my HRV a few times a day. The app I’m using is geared toward athletes, but for my application (managing PTSD symptoms) it’s working well, I think. I’m not changing behavior this week, I’m seeing what it does and how, how my number fluctuates throughout the day and how I’m feeling compared to my number. If HRV is new for you, check out my post about why I’m doing this!¬†

I was at 55 when I woke up yesterday morning, which is pretty good. I was at 44 this morning, and I had a bad night and ended up going back to sleep after I woke up. Data doesn’t resolve anything for me, but can inform how I understand and respond to my own needs, which is something that has been a challenge for me.

I’m pushing through work this week to get prepped for next week when I’ll be traveling and speaking a lot. I also have to submit a project for a client, and that has to be ready to go before I hit the road because I won’t have time to do it later. Despite the sometimes dizzying anxiety I’m experiencing this week, I keep pushing ahead as I’m able. Once I get past next week my deadlines and public appearances should be done for the year, and I can go back to working in quiet on my own time – which means I will need to use that time to really dig into managing PTSD instead of letting it manage me.

Hello Work Trigger!

I had a pretty great morning lined up with a mentor meeting followed by lunch with a friend. The morning was still great, but it was a bit disrupted by an email I received regarding a former project. The person claimed that a document amendment process had not been followed correctly and did I have a copy of the document that was supposed to have been used for the formal adoption?

Nope. That would have been your job or the attorney’s job…yes? This person was not my client, they are part of an ongoing sabotage attempt against my client, and apparently forgot who works for who in this situation…and who is good¬†and who is not good at their job. I called my client to check for any back story information before I responded, then went on with my plans.

I checked into the paper trail when I got back to my office and found that this person was incorrect, procedure had been correctly followed and they were only reading the new rules, not the old rules. Old rules didn’t have that requirement (which is why I wrote it in for the new rules) so this hunt for non-existent paperwork was unnecessary.

Which this person would have know if they had done their job correctly. They have every file and document that I have. I know this, because I delivered it to them myself.

Anxiety – the heart-racing, curl up and vomit kind – hit as soon as I sent my brief response referencing the relevant document sections.

One of the reasons I now work for myself is that I spent about ten years working for people who were abusive and who constantly discredited my abilities and my knowledge. It may have pushed me to be really good at what I do, but it left some scars – one of which is clearly my PTSD response when my work abilities are questioned without merit.

I’m gonna go meditate now…and hope my heart rate strap arrives soon…