When Not Being A Priority Is a Trigger

I’ve paid so much for what someone else broke.

I want to vomit. 

There is just no way to understand what I live with. At least that’s my assumption. Because after sharing blogs, sharing books, talking about my experience, trying to share what goes on in my head and trying to develop a way of talking about what happens in my brain in a clear and specific way… “I am engaged with old school friends. Probably best to say goodnight.” was like being shoved off a cliff. 

Hello, familiar pit of mental hell. 

And no amount of him saying, “I’m not very good at communicating over the phone.” can repair the neuron paths in my brain that immediately take me to the worst moments of my existence when they get hit with the news that I’m just not important enough to be a priority. 

Ever felt your soul scream? You can’t hear it, thankfully. I don’t think I could survive hearing it. Feeling it is painful enough. And it happens for me when someone safe becomes a threat because my injured brain reads threat. I’m in fight mode right now and am desperate to survive. I’m also desperate to rein in the fight, because I’m about to destroy things… mainly the him that just became a threat. 

I’ve worked so hard to repair the damage so that this wouldn’t happen. I’ve paid so much for what someone else broke. And now, because of a trigger I forgot I have, my soul is screaming in pain in between waves of nausea. 

The only thing I have to hold onto is that I didn’t break before, and this might be the worst trigger I’ve had in a long time, but I was able to manage two of them, so I might be able to handle this one too. 

Whirling Through the Week – Until I Hit a Wall

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable.

I had a lot going on this week.

I had some kind of idea that work would slowly pick up over the month and I could adjust. Nope, things blew up this week and I’ve been scrambling to do it all. Plus I had to be “public me” a lot, and spent a lot of time managing conflicts, in conferences and meetings and taking on more work. Not surprisingly, I hit a wall this afternoon and started to slide into a panic attack.

I have been doing a lot to recognize and address past trauma, which I am increasingly aware was in great part due to abusive communication, and when I have already hit my stress limit I have a really hard time not taking everything the wrong way.

Basically, if I start saying I’m tired, there is a meltdown on the way.

I realized today that I have a tendency to recoil in preparation for a verbal beating when I start toward a panic attack. I start making plans to isolate, I use any and every excuse for why I must not bother someone and I make a really big deal out of something that hasn’t even happened. My brain, in the process of wrecking, ties communication to abuse and prepares me for it by telling me to shut down and shut out.

This is without there being any verbal beating or any communication abuse. Or any abuse. Or…anything.

Sometimes dealing with this shit is really weird.

It’s a little terrifying too. I was in the middle of talking to a client, changing a drawing and trying to tell David what was happening so that I could hopefully stop the process of making problems where there weren’t any. He reminded me to breathe, and that helped for a few hours, but now I’m back in a similar place, where I’m making a lot of assumptions and creating problems that aren’t there. I’m glad I’m starting to recognize what’s happening, but dealing with it while I’m also exhausted and have hit my stress limit for the week is challenging.

I did a couple of yoga classes when I finished work to try to continue the process of calming. They were more meditative than active, and I found the word vulnerable coming up repeatedly as I stilled my body and slowed my breathing. As in be vulnerable.

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable. I want to put up my defenses and not have to challenge myself and my thinking and repeat to myself that I am experiencing cognitive distortion and that things are not what I am making them out to be. I would way rather tuck in and take a Xanax than sit in pain and stop the negative, destructive thought patterns that I lived with for a few years.

I’m done waiting for a better time to deal with this. There isn’t a time that I will be less busy, will be in a better place, will have less on my plate, will have my shit together or will be more ready for a relationship. I can’t put my life on hold because this shit is hard, and I have so much opening up to me. I think that was the message in yoga. When the choice is before me, and the choice is hard, time to choose vulnerable.

I Got My Ass Kicked Again

It opened the door to the kind of thing that moves the earth on its axis a bit.

And once again, I deserved it.

Twice in the last year I have said something that I did not intend to be harmful, and have gotten called out on it by women whom I respect. They let me know how they perceived my words, I apologized and explained my position, and through civil and forgiving dialogue the relationship was restored.

This time I had said a few negative observations about someone at church and her boyfriend (she’s dating the roommate of this guy), and I had said them to people who did not take them for what they were and move on. My comments turned to gossip, word got around to her through three people, and she asked me to meet her for coffee.

I’ll call her Linda because that works well for an idea I have that I’ll write about in a later post.

I don’t know Linda very well, but she has come across as cold, detached and not willing to invest in the group. That has not sat well with a few people, and some group dynamics have not been very receptive to her perceived attitude. I certainly have not been receptive to it. For her to ask me to coffee was weird. Not thanks, I don’t like you.

But this is church, and I didn’t want to be starting something by declining, so I figured I’d better hear her out, even if she was also going to lay into me for who I choose to date (or anti-date, as the case may be).

She blew me away.

She said she had heard that I had said some unkind things about her, and wanted to know first if that was true, and if so, had she done something to upset me? I was sitting across from a woman ten years younger, being schooled on maturity and kindness. I didn’t think I’d said what she had heard, so I told her that I had made some negative observations, that without knowing who said exactly what it was hard for me to know if the gossip was true but that didn’t matter, because I was sorry I had hurt her and I had no business talking about her, especially since I didn’t know her well. She graciously accepted my apology, then the magic of authenticity happened.

She asked if she had heard correctly that I have PTSD. Yes, I’m open about the car wreck aspect of my diagnosis, and have found that sharing that connects me to people who do not feel as comfortable talking about what their experience is. There can be so much shame with PTSD. I have a platform for talking about it that doesn’t have to get into the years of abuse, and I use that. She doesn’t have that cover, which I quickly understood as we spoke. She’s were I was, experiencing the after-effects of trauma without knowing what to do. As we shared our experiences and I told her that it’s more than a car wreck for me, she bravely told me her story, one that I related to, and one I understood.

When you have PTSD and you meet someone who understands and lets you know that they will give you only acceptance and not judgement, it is freeing. It’s a big step toward getting out of the prison. I have had people open the door to freedom for me, and I had the chance to open the door for her. It was wonderful, and I am kind of glad I got called out for gossip, because it opened the door to the kind of thing that moves the earth on its axis a bit.

That kind of experience also drains me, and I had a panic attack later that evening because I was too tired to manage anxiety. I ended up stonewalling (new term for me, I’m learning so much this week!) David, and shutting down, then texting him an hour later to try to explain what had happened. I had been triggered by something that connected to past abuse, and it took me a while to track it in my brain. I keep stumbling into these triggers and it’s exhausting.

This whole week has been exhausting. I have put so much energy and work into relationships and into myself. I’m back to work so I’m having to balance some tense dynamics there, and heading into the weekend I’ll be working with my grandma on her end of life directives. I may just stay home on Sunday and hide!

The work is worth it, and I’m so grateful for what I’m seeing happen from acting with kindness, honesty and acceptance.

 

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. 

How Are You? Cranky.

This should all have been done yesterday. Still nothing.

Hello fall, my old nemesis.

Shorter days and cold are not for me. I experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, cold makes my bones hurt deep down, and for the next several months I will have a default of moody and in pain. Winning combination, that.

I appreciate that many people enjoy fall. It’s just not the joyful harbinger of the holidays for me that it seems to be for others. And I think pumpkin spice lattes are gross. Wondering how I have any friends yet? I keep a lot of this to myself.

There is a lot of stress and busyness in my work circles right now. Fall is often a wind down into the holidays, when we start doing the fun community stuff and clients get distracted by life and shopping and apple cider and…whatever. Somehow that is not the case this year. We are really busy, my colleagues are really busy, we are putting out several project proposals for work that will begin before the end of the year and it’s all a bit of a fast balancing act.

Which is why it irritates the hell outta me that my business partner is not just handling things.

I am handling things on my side. We have a lengthy “to-do” list to get through the next three weeks and our big business development event of the year, and we designated responsibilities. None of his are done. Not one.

What I am REALLY struggling with right now is how to address this. It’s not as simple as “get your shit done.” (I know, I know, yes it sounds like it’s that easy but it’s not because of the nature of the work and the differences in our skill sets).

I have gotten us a few new clients (very grateful for every single client who chooses to trust us with their project), we need to get proposals out, I gave the content of the proposals, which means all that is left is to fill in the information in the template and send it out with a nice letter and some backup documents. This should all have been done yesterday. Still nothing. And I am about to blow my top because I am on vacation this weekend and only have so long today to deal with this.

I don’t want to be a jerk. I don’t want to be unaccommodating. I want a long term healthy and positive partnership. Except right now. Right now I want to do it myself after making cutting statements with a few terse words.

 

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.