Second Date/Planned First Date

There will be more of these.

Second date with Client’s Brother ended up being 12 hours. Sometimes you just don’t wanna leave…

Experience (which is not what any sane person wants to claim, but my 20s were a rough time in my life) has taught me that if I don’t bend (at times until I break) for another person, they’ll leave. I have been so accommodating for so long that I forgot to say what I want and need and not care if that didn’t work for him. That changed last night.

Client’s Brother met me after church to grab some supplies, eat lunch and head out Talkative Friend’s house to work on our charity craft project. He met the kids, was very helpful and actually worked, whereas they mostly socialized. I have some large wall art pieces to finish, and he painted framed and nailed boards like a pro. I introduced him but didn’t mention how I knew him, because, frankly, it’s more fun for them to wonder. We finished for the day in just enough time to make it to watch the sun set over the lake, and it is not terrible to be held and have your neck kissed while you watch the sky aflame with color. My favorite restaurants are closed on Sundays, so we got margaritas, then pizza and beer, splitting a massive slice while we snuggled and watched football.

Then we kissed in my car in the Home Depot parking lot till 1:30 in the morning. PG, y’all.

I am all for taking time to get to know someone. I think relationships happen at so many different speeds. I also think that with what I live with, and the lingering damage of assault, it’s better for a guy to know up front what he’s getting into. I may come off as bubble princess in public, but my private life is far different, and I don’t want to have to pretend with him. So I told him what being in my life entails, what I have to work through still and that I am still learning to ask for what I need. He was so accepting and accommodating. He asked what he needed to do and what that would look like for him. I just asked for patience, and he told me I was worth it.

We traded stories of our demons in between kisses. So many kisses. He’s just as hesitant that I won’t accept his past, even though he’s now a different person. He has similar family obligations, responsibilities and concerns, he has made bad relationship choices and he wants better. And he’s smart. He doesn’t understand what I deal with but he’s already shown he’s willing to take care of me. He’s affectionate, which I need because I am too. Two grown-ass adults PG kissing in a car for 4 hours? Because I was vulnerable and he valued that? It’s a way better experience. Here’s to trying new things.

Week One Off the Meds

When they all seem to conspire against you…

I’m not going to post about this every week, but I have made it through the first week of coming off my medications. It was hell. And I’m still full of synthetic chemicals. 

The situations and circumstances around me were the real issue, not my response to quitting my first prescription. I’m ok. Maybe a little more grumpy, a little more intense and a little more looking for connection. There’s also a slight internal shift I can’t put my finger on yet. I might have a little more ability to push through? I think I might also be slimming down a tad. Or it was the 6 hours of playing ball on Wednesday…

Between my family, my friends and my job, the week was bonkers. I’m not sure who called who to sabotage my sanity this week, but they did their damndest. I don’t hate people any more than usual though, and I successfully ran a meeting full of strangers, so… Maybe that was a test? I guess I passed? 

I reckon it’ll be January before I’m completely off everything. That’s a bit ambitious, but I’m nothing if not ambitious. And if this goes the way I’m planning for it to, I’ll be much better off by my birthday. 

Caring For Others When You Can’t Care For Yourself

I have a lot more anxiety now than I did last week, because I have all of the residual anxiety that hasn’t been addressed or sorted or dealt with while I have done nothing for myself.

I am done taking care of other people.

That was my thought Saturday night as I waited somewhat impatiently for my chickens to leave my house and go home (chickens being my group of younger friends who I generally adore but sometimes get worn out with). In the last two and a half weeks I have done back to back post-surgery for my brother, care for my very ill mother (who is much better now), running my firm (which got super-intense last week when things got challenging with every single client’s project at once), running my parent’s house while my Dad was out of state on business, helping some of the guys win over the girls they like, and dealing with the absolute nonsense spewing from a friend who dumped her boyfriend and is now taking her need for attention out on the rest of the group.

I am seriously thinking about getting them back together just to give the rest of us (me especially) a break.

Which brings me to one of the most challenging realities of PTSD for me: it is so much easier to care for (read meddle with) other people than it is to take care of myself. Not only that, but when I do get caught up in taking care of and meeting the needs of others, it takes me some time to wind down from it. I have a lot more anxiety now than I did last week, because I have all of the residual anxiety that hasn’t been addressed or sorted or dealt with while I have done nothing for myself. I’m also resentful that as much as I have been taking care of others, not only do they not acknowledge what I’ve done (family especially), they don’t care for me (again, family especially).

Enter therapy this morning, where I had to put names to my emotions, face these challenges and acknowledge that one of the core issues that I struggle with having PTSD is I experience anxiety when I don’t know.

I was in a very abusive relationship in which I was horribly betrayed a week before my car wreck. I didn’t understand it as abusive at the time because years of abusive employers had done a number on me (whole other story for another day), and I am coming to realize that what causes me the most anxiety is not knowing. I would really rather know the worst than not know. Some of that comes from being manipulated by someone I thought I could trust, some of it comes from genuinely thinking I was about to die. There is a lot of unknown when your car is smashing around and you are in complete sensory overload.

So now I get to begin to work toward sitting peacefully with not knowing, with understanding that anxiety will not bring resolution. It’s a little much to take in today. I’m going to need some time to process. I’m starting with making a plan to reorganize my workspace to be better for me (which I was going to do two weeks ago but didn’t because I was busy with others) and I’m listening to Brene Brown’s TED talks.

This is hard. This part is really hard. Onward.

Not As Planned

I’ve had two trigger episodes in the last week quite unexpectedly, which does not exactly put me in a great place to care for my family.

Very little of my last 5 days has gone as planned.

My brother’s surgery did not go as planned. They only got to one of the three fingers they were going to repair, and it did not have blood in the bone so they stopped after repairing that finger to wait for more tests to develop a new plan. Healing will take longer for him and may be more painful. A plate in one finger is painful enough. I am so thankful his surgeon does not take any shortcuts with his hands and is willing to wait for a better plan to address my brother’s injuries.

My Mom is very ill. She can barely get out of bed at the moment and requires care as well. She had the same illness last year and nearly died, so I’m a little on edge since I know this can quickly escalate to a hospital visit. She’s not up to care and parenting for sure, and this is an even more challenging time for her to be ill since my brother is in recovery and may be back in surgery in the next couple of weeks.

I had some obligations this weekend that thankfully did go as planned, since it turned out my attention was needed at home more than anticipated. I bailed out of one commitment early and no one noticed, which was great. I have some work things to show up to including an all day event on Thursday, which I don’t really see happening at this point. Shame, since I’ve been looking forward to it for months.

I’ve had two trigger episodes in the last week quite unexpectedly, which does not exactly put me in a great place to care for my family. I didn’t get half done that I had planned (changing my workspace, which was important on my to-do list for myself until all of this happened, getting in some exercise and yoga, etc.) and have been up way later and way earlier than I would like to be. Last night I slept on the couch because getting my butt up the stairs was too much. Fitbit didn’t register the 43 times I woke up, and I wasn’t even Xanax’d.

Thank goodness therapy was scheduled for this morning, and I had a safe place to vent about how I COULD NOT HAVE PLANNED FOR THIS, nor, really, did I feel prepared to deal with it all. Family illness is hard. Family communication breakdowns because family is ill is hard. Mental health challenges for the caregiver are hard. Putting my job on the back burner while two projects got strangely intense at the end of last week is hard.

I don’t have a “but” today. Not “it’s hard, but…” Not “it didn’t go as planned, but…” Nope. Just hard, and it could get harder. All I can do is my best, and I will use what I’ve learned in the last few months to take care of myself so I can take care of my people.

These Deadlines, Too, Shall Pass

After lounging around all last weekend with anxiety brain because, as it turns out, I am extremely sensitive to barometric pressure (I am my own weather predictor station?!?), I have been mad busy since Monday getting the documents ready for a building permit application. I didn’t know until Monday that my client wanted the application submitted today, and I found out the previous architect (who I replaced) had missed some pretty critical aspects on the drawings, and there were no utilities shown (or they also weren’t correct) for the site, and…basically working 16 hour days to do the job of 5 people as one person.

In context, it was only a couple of days, lots of people have lots to do, people who need post-hurricane assistance and care are much more important on the Scale of Things and after all, these are only drawings.

Anxiety brain doesn’t give a shit about context or the Scale of Things.

It cares about having to focus for very long periods (or three days straight), it cares about having to juggle responsibilities, it cares that WE VERY MUCH WANT A COMPLETE DAY OFF ON A MONDAY, THANKS, BECAUSE THIS WEEKEND WAS STRESSFUL AND DIDN’T COUNT, it cares about having to work very late and not pay attention to breakfast because that is multitasking and coffee from that food truck makes us happy and somehow doesn’t cause anxiety but we don’t have time to get it because DEADLINE and also WHY ARE NONE OF THESE FILES RIGHT??? It was also pissed that we didn’t feel like yoga.

And that’s it. Anxiety brain doesn’t do context or scale, it blows it all up and says everything is a massive panic, and hard, and too hard and no thanks, I will just lay in bed in the dark and eat pizza (that was last night after finishing for the night and being both tired and hungry).

I am working to not let anxiety brain win. I am gonna reprogram my busted neurons and be able to do what I want, so I kept telling myself CONTEXT. And that these deadlines, too, shall pass. Now time for some self-care and exercise, then on to the next thing.

More Ups & Downs & Post-Storm Anxiety

I didn’t go to church for a bit over a year because I was tired of it, disconnected from it and not interested in the petty politics of it. Not God, to be clear, not my relationship with Jesus, but with a particular brand of church that to my perspective lacked a clear focus on Jesus.

I went back to church on the invitation of the friends I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and have barely missed since. Except today, when church was cancelled because the school we meet in cancelled church because the district cancelled all weekend rentals in case the schools needed to be converted to shelters (presumably).

We have a more or less “singles” group that hangs out and has fun, and several were up for church despite the weather, so I organized a small group meeting at one of the guy’s houses and even though the rain and wind was fairly strong this morning, we had 6 people meet up for “church”. It was exactly what I needed. It was a calm, safe space with genuine friends in the middle of a literal storm. We went to lunch after and hung out for a few hours talking about nothing important.

Now I’m in bed hiding from the world and wondering where on earth that sense of calm went?!? Because right now EVERYTHING CAUSES ME ANXIETY.

Yes, I drove in conditions very similar to those in which I wrecked, but I’ve been through EMDR and I didn’t hydroplane even a little, but maybe my brain still doesn’t like it.

Yes I drank coffee (known to increase my anxiety) and ate a few donut holes (also known to increase my anxiety), but I thought I had tempered that with water and protein.

Yes storm is not that bad here and we are safe from flooding. I hate that so many people are not in that place, and social media is BANANAS right now (these check-ins as “safe” from people who haven’t even had rain today are so dumb! There is life-threatening flooding that is causing a real need for people to know the status of loved ones, don’t make this about you if it’s not.)

Didn’t do yoga but went for a walk and took a warm shower after, which made me feel pretty good (temporarily).

So here I am, glad that so many people are bravely helping strangers and giving what they have to help, but staying in my bed because I don’t want to create a problem and I can take care of myself from here. Outside is not a place I can safely be right now.

This is such a strange experience. I am used to taking care of others, stepping up and helping, taking charge and figuring it out. This whole month in therapy I have been working to understand how to learn to take care of myself, because that is something I don’t do very well. Frankly, it’s easier to ignore my needs because they just annoy me.

Well, here’s my chance.