Getting Me Back

Sex and dating have been the last big issues I haven’t really dealt with post-PTSD. I didn’t have to, so I didn’t, and figured I’d deal with it when I had to. Well, now I have to if I want this relationship to continue. Which I do, because Client’s Brother is an incredible surprise, and I’d like to see where we go. He knows I still have a lot of shit to work through, and he’s kind and compassionate about it. Since I have a giant question mark about my reactions to everything (post-assault I am pretty skittish about, well, everything), I have no idea what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not. I have so many negative emotions about sex and dating, and changing that is going to take time and energy that I don’t yet have available for this. He’s walking through this with me, and I couldn’t really ask for more. It’s quite wonderful.

As I’m rolling into the end of the work year and things slow down for about a month, I have some space to step away from the office and focus on myself. It’s time I really need to do this, to get ME back. I need to form different coping habits, need to resolve some background noise and pursue some things that bring me joy, things that I haven’t had the energy to pursue. As much as the recovery process is central to my life, I’m ready to move beyond recovery and be more than the anxiety and scars. I think that identity was ok for a while, and I think it gave me a bit of shelter, but I’m more than the scars and want to be more than the anxiety. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t start things on Mondays and I try to avoid high-expectation change scenarios. I’d rather start something on a Tuesday in April. So no end-of-year or new year plans, just seems like the right time to push myself forward a bit and regain some of what I like about myself.

The Answer is Compassion

I could have blown up all of these circumstances with MY WAY. I didn’t, and today has been a beautiful moment of light in the darkness of hate that has once again tried to descend.

I had thought of and titled this blog before the horrific act of terror in Las Vegas last night. That event and the heartbreaking loss of life, health and sense of security that results do not change my statement. If anything, I am affirming my position. Because when we speak before we listen, when we don’t give voice to those who experience trauma, when we do not answer the question “What do we/I do” with Compassion., we don’t do the right thing. The answer, now, as ever, is Compassion.

I have wanted so badly to point fingers at everyone else this past week. I have wanted to make everyone else the contributor to my suffering, my pain and my struggle. However, there are two key problems with my doing that:

  1. I am not acknowledging their part of the story, and may be placing blame where inadvertent action is causing me to perceive intentional harm.
  2. I can control nothing but myself, and even if I think it would be better for other to change their behavior, I cannot make them do so (nor, indeed, do I even want to when I honestly address my feelings).

Instead I am making changes that I can make, that are of benefit to me, and I am releasing the things I cannot. I bought a ticket to visit a friend this month who I have held back from visiting because of my fear of flying. I addressed my PTSD symptoms very directly with my Mom, and she listened, which was very healing after feeling that she had ignored me the other night. I gently asked a friend not to include a person in our group who has hurt the group (she lacks a certain amount of discretion and tends to just add people into activities without checking with the core group first, which has caused some issues when the added people were not positive participants). She accepted the correction immediately, and I responded by checking with her for her level of comfort about a location change for another planned event.

I accepted help. I accepted an offer of a venue for an event I am hosting that will take a lot of the burden off of me, and I did it because I acknowledged this person would like to contribute and it would make them feel good.

I could have blown up all of these circumstances with MY WAY. I didn’t, and today has been a beautiful moment of light in the darkness of hate that has once again tried to descend.

Compassion is the answer.

 

My First Foray Into Meditation

I want to be able to accept my lack of control as a circumstance that does not require me to react with anxiety.

A couple of years ago a dear friend recommended meditation as a way to cope with anxiety. He was doing guided meditations and was appreciating the results. At the time I had no idea what meditation was, and I was quite adverse to anything resembling sitting still or thinking, and especially both, so I didn’t pick up that practice.

Fast forward to my current place of stability, brain on high process speed, the realization that my statement in EMDR was not the best statement for me (THANKS FORMER THERAPIST THAT I HAD TO FIRE – but that’s another story), adjusting that statement, practicing yoga with some consistency and being more comfortable with thoughts: I am ready for this meditation thing.

Change happens when you’re ready for it. If you aren’t, I don’t know that you actually change. Unless you are forced to, but even then it might be a temporary adaptation? Another topic for later. The point is, I was not previously ready to meditate. But having found myself in a place where my lack of control over, well, anything causes me considerable anxiety on a daily basis, my goal for the next few weeks is to adjust how I think about my lack of control and come to a place of acceptance over what I can’t, namely the behavior and choices of other people (also hurricanes, seriously).

I have found that after I practice yoga for about half an hour I am really ready to think about things. More than that, I get to a place that I have pretty much blocked out the noise and have space in my brain to work on myself, or just be peaceful. Today I sat with affirmations that I can accept not being in control, that I can be at peace with circumstances that are not what I want, that God provides for this, etc. etc. It was nice, and it was a start. Because my statement had been “I am in control.”

FALSE.

I am hardly ever in control (someone brought me lunch today and something in it caused my digestive system to hit the eject button, so I wasn’t even in control of my lunch today) and most of what I do is dependent on other people, the weather, availability of gasoline…so I want to be able to accept my lack of control as a circumstance that does not require me to react with anxiety. This will surely take some practice. First step made.

I Just Got My Ass Kicked, And I Deserved It

I made a light-hearted social media post this morning about getting coffee and bagels from a local joint in spite of the “hurricane”, which hasn’t actually hit my area yet with anything bust a bit of rain and wind. I was watching a lot of local businesses say they were going to be closed today out of panic over conditions that weren’t happening, and as a staunch supporter of entrepreneurs and local business I was happy to promote a new coffee truck that had creatively figured out how to keep customers out of the rain and in good supply of coffee and bagels, which happen to be my favorite coffee and bagels ever, THE END.

A friend who is from one of the coastal areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey was upset enough about what I said to tell me what she thought about my insensitive post and relate all the hell her family and friends are going through.

Did I mean it like that? No. Did I make reference to anywhere other than my own town? No. Did I mention harm or coastal areas or make any lame “thoughts and well wishes for those affected” statements? Nope. I told my local friends to not be pussies and go support a local business that couldn’t afford a major hit on a Saturday.

That was not the point. The point is I inadvertently hurt someone with my cavalier statement, and she was friend enough to call me out on it. I was friend enough to not be defensive, but to explain my perspective, acknowledge she was fair in kicking my ass and I immediately changed my post. It didn’t matter that I didn’t mean to, it mattered that what I said upset her and maybe other people. She didn’t call me out publicly, she texted me. We had a sincere dialogue about it, she understood and admitted she may have reacted a bit strongly, and I corrected what I had said wrongly in her eyes. We both walked away in agreement, satisfied and committed to a friendship that has lasted over a decade.

I want that from my friendships, and I want that from myself. I don’t want to get defensive when someone tells me I’ve done wrong, I don’t want to deflect a rebuke, I want to have the maturity and humility to say yes, I am sorry, how can I make that right? I have heard so much refusal to take responsibility lately, and I’m glad I’ve learned from it rather than participate in it. I’m glad I got my ass kicked. I’m glad I have a friend who was willing to kick it.