Flashbacks in the Rain

I almost died in a car wreck that happened in the rain. For the most part (and thanks to EMDR and a lot of therapy) I don’t really have problems anymore when I drive. When I do, I have coping skills that work well. So today was a pretty big surprise when I was driving in the rain on my way to a meeting and started having flashbacks, not about my car wreck, but about the day of my brother’s accident. Clear as anything were the memories of getting the call from my mom, picking up his truck, sitting in the ICU waiting room unable to pray and barely able to hold it together, leaning on the prayers and shoulders of friends.

I’ve rarely had flashbacks of my own trauma, much less that of someone else. And while that day was traumatic for me, it hasn’t had nearly the impact that my own trauma has.

As I began to write this post, I also began to ask why and to process what happened this afternoon. I’m dreaming again… I’m processing again… I’m resolving trauma again.

I am done being afraid of the hold the past has on me. I’ve survived this much this long, and I can deal with whatever else boils up. But this was interesting, because as much as the flashback experience while driving on slick roads was not pleasant, it didn’t shake me. I’m now more curious about it, about where it came from and why that day?

I dream when I’m relaxed or when I am processing. Emotions, events – they all get run through my dream cycles in full color and epic drama. I don’t dream the exact thing, I dream versions of it, or nothing at all related. I started dreaming again this week after a long time off. My resting heart rate is slowly dropping, I’m a little more calm during the day and now memories are emerging that probably haven’t been dealt with. The human brain is fascinating.

Am I excited by this? Nope. Am I afraid of it? Also nope. Gonna deal with it and move on…

!!20170401_165514

 

Late Nights & Lots of Crafts

I’m in my natural state – overextended.

I stay in a constant state of overcommitment. I still haven’t learned that I can’t do as much most days, so I do what I want to do, rather than what would be a better balance. I really love to give my time away. ALL OF IT.

I have zero space for dating, because I hadn’t planned on it. Now I’m dating, and it’s making for some late nights on the phone because that’s when we can catch up and focus on each other.

I am working with my lovely if occasionally annoying group of kids to make crafts to sell at my city’s massive Christmas Stroll this coming weekend in support of an orphanage near Monterrey, Mexico. It’s beyond giving to the less fortunate, it’s about providing for the most vulnerable people – impoverished and abused children. We heard about the booth and promptly offered up all of our creativity and spare nights, and we have been busy. It’s a great bonding time, but sitting on a tile floor painting for 3 hours last night is not without its consequences for me this morning as I creak around. My grouchy old bones are not as willing of participants.

This is on top of work, caring for my grandma, running the house, my brother starting to open up to me, various other holiday commitments for care packages and gatherings, my pro bono work, my volunteer work, and at some point starting to make Christmas happen.

Can I not adult today?

But it’s so worth it. Sacrificial giving is such a fulfilling thing. Not the giving from excess, but giving from having little. It’s part of my practice of gratitude, and I have rest planned as soon as I finish my whirlwind of commitments. I will be grateful for that too!

 

Aaaaannnnnddd…the Client has a Brother

I don’t think I was imagining our chemistry.

I met with a potential new client today. We had spoken over the phone, and I suggested meeting in person, partly so I could see if I really did think he is capable of pulling off the project he wants to do, partly because I find face to face interaction to be worth the time when I am trying to draw people’s ideas out of their heads. He was as nice and authentic as I had thought he might be, and if we can agree on a price he’ll be my newest client with a long-term partnership. I’m really excited. I frequently meet the most amazing people in my job, and it makes the risk and frustration of owning a business worth it.

Turns out client has a brother, who I also met because he will be closely involved in the project. And he was at the meeting. And…hello.

It has been a long time since I met a guy and we had instant chemistry. I thought I might be imagining the connection, but since we talked most of the time and a lot about personal stuff rather than business (business partner was monopolizing the client anyway and I let that go because business partner is working on adapting to my way of doing things and he needs practice), and he eventually touched my arm…fist pump.

It was unusual and nice. I wasn’t getting hit on at the gas pump or asked out by a creepy younger guy without a stable job (or emotional state…), wasn’t being targeted as an easy one night stand (am I actually putting off that vibe?!?) and wasn’t viewed as a potential trophy. We just connected. And now I am really distracted and trying to remind myself to KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL.

I don’t operate formally unless I am making public presentations or working with clients who like to do business formally. I meet people where they are, listen to them tell their stories, tell a few of mine, poke fun at myself and try to find out what they really want that they aren’t telling me if they haven’t yet figured it out for themselves. A lot of my clients become friends, and I get invested in their lives and their projects. I like doing things that way. It’s fulfilling and, a lot of times, great fun.

I’ve just never wanted a client to ask me out before…

Managed Chaos

The first day off meds turned out to be the day I’ve been dreading, by horrible coincidence.

I might need to move my weekly therapy sessions to Tuesdays. Monday afternoons, for whatever reason, tend to hit me with a bat and keep whacking.

I was on my way to a meeting with a new client when my grandma called. She never calls during the workday because she is afraid she’ll interrupt something important. She doesn’t believe I silence my phone if I don’t want to be interrupted. Thankfully I  hadn’t done that yet because she called to tell me she had fallen and needed help getting up again. I found out when I got to her that she had been on the floor for three hours before she called. It took me 45 minutes to get through 30 miles of traffic and get to her. I literally picked her up off the floor and set her in her chair, then stayed to make sure she could use her walker again. I’ve been dreading this day. She has severe arthritis (which she refuses to have treated) and her left ankle has almost no cartilage left from years of dancing. She didn’t have the strength or flexibility to get herself up off the floor. She called me her Jesus for saving her.

I’m not even close, and that strength to lift her? That was Jesus, not me.

Yes, she or I could have called for help, but she was very embarrassed and she didn’t want anyone to know, because they might try to push her into a managed care facility and she deeply values her independence. I support her autonomy, so I got the call. I changed my meeting for later in the week (who gets mad at someone who has to go help their grandma?), calmly walked her through the process of getting her up again and didn’t make a fuss, as she says. I’ll be checking on her the next couple of days. That was the condition of my secret keeping.

My Mom is ill again. Not nearly as bad as before, but she slept really late this morning, which is concerning, and puts running the house back on me.

One of my brothers recently broke up with his girlfriend, whose alcoholism pushed him to a breaking point. Today he found out who she was cheating on him with. I supported him while I made dinner, since I was home much earlier than expected and Mom wasn’t up to it.

Did I mention I started weaning off my meds today? Thank goodness synthetic chemicals are hard to get out of your system and I won’t feel the effects for a while…

I’m gonna go stress eat now, because even after making dinner I didn’t get enough to make up for all the calories I burned today remaining calm…

Triggered By a Microwave, and Other ???

I know I’ve been struggling the past two weeks with connecting to the idea that I have value…

I was at my parent’s house this morning and decided to make tea at the same time my youngest brother was making nachos (breakfast foods aren’t his thing, generally). I had my mug in the microwave for about 45 seconds when he stopped it, opened the door, took my mug out, put his chips and cheese in and declared that his would only take 30 seconds, therefore this made sense.

Sure it made sense. My brain, however, sometimes doesn’t accept “sense”, and I stood behind him, still and quiet, trying to control the sudden flood of emotion.

Y’all. I almost cried.

Then I threatened to beat the shit outta him.

Mom was watching me carefully the whole time. No, I wasn’t actually going to attack my still-recovering brother over a mug of hot water, but the incident brought up so much emotion for me. Emotion that had very little to do with him, and my trigger experiences often don’t have anything to do with the situation at hand and everything to do with the past or unresolved stuff.

I felt like I wasn’t important, that I didn’t matter. That I had no value in that moment. That my needs could be scraped aside and ignored.

All that from a microwave.

Mom tried to smooth it over with humor and I went along with it, but I still had to deal with the emotions. I almost cried a second time, then found some quiet so that I could sort this out. I know I’ve been struggling the past two weeks with connecting to the idea that I have value (for so many years I was treated by a lot of people in ways that said I DID NOT), so this was a punch in the gut when I have finally started to stand upright.

I don’t think my brother doesn’t value me, and again, I understand that to him this was a logical, time-based act. And he was in the kitchen first, so he thought first come first to the microwave. I don’t dispute that. My trigger was based on the pile of experiences that I have not yet acknowledged to have been damaging and that have created a twisted view of myself.

Well, time to acknowledge, time to change the narrative, time to be grateful for this opportunity and time to finish drinking my tea and go about my day.

Family Drama Over Groceries

It’s not inexplicable that I occasionally fantasize about running away to Canada.

My aunt, after many years of being mean to my grandma, has decided to mend her ways (I guess?) and pitch in on caring for my grandma. Her version, which is very generous and welcome, is to occasionally buy a cart full of groceries and drive them up to her. She doesn’t discuss this with my grandma so it usually comes as a surprise, and my grandma is not very receptive to surprises at this stage of her life, nor is she quite willing to let her guard down with my aunt. Understandably.

Now that curbside grocery pickup is a thing in my area, my aunt can now shop online and make me to pick up the groceries, which I did this morning because it helps keep the peace and I can soften the surprise a bit. Grandma still had no idea what to do with so many groceries, and because her arthritis keeps her from cooking much anymore, she was a bit overwhelmed and not sure what to do with it all. I offered to take anything she thought might be too much trouble and make meals we could share (which is the normal way I do things, she calls me “gourmet meals on wheels”), and I told her if it just got to be too much to just put a sign and the food outside her apartment door and it would be gone by evening.

We’re suppose to be glad when people do nice things, right? Except this “nice thing” is a bit too little too late, has no gentleness (but hey, neither does my aunt), and is massively inconvenient to me. Grandma was a little upset I had to be put to trouble (I assured her it was not, and quite easy), but she was glad it was me and not my aunt delivering the groceries, since my aunt can’t make a visit without bringing up something contentious that my grandma would prefer not to discuss.

It’s not inexplicable that I occasionally fantasize about running away to Canada.

The New Normal? Geez I Hope Not.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it.

I’m about a week into moving from my normal anxiety program into anger/rage/short fuse under tight control. I don’t want to explode on someone and hurt their feelings.

After a week of this I have zero idea still of what is behind it, and can only guess its some combination of weather/trauma anniversary approaching/lack of support from my family/stupid friends/driving in rain a few days (I wrecked in the rain). I have done different things every day, eaten sugar, not eaten sugar, eaten gluten, not eaten gluten, taken vitamins, drank more water, gotten more sleep, shrugged off some responsibilities, taken on some responsibilities, exercised, not exercised, read before bed, eaten tacos and organized my work space.

No. Change.

Now it feels like the new normal, which is not good news, and I don’t know how to change it because the things I usually do to feel better are having zero noticeable effect. And since I’m pissed of at everything all day anyway (plus there is not a minute of the day that I don’t want to DRINK), I’m more annoyed than usual at my weight, my work, my family, my friends and my hair.

I can exercise choice, right?

Might be time to make that plan to lose the trauma weight.

I have been ON IT at work, which is going really well, and I am also putting it down when the work day is over.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it. 4 years later they are not going to change even as I continue to. And that’s really ok.

My friends and their bonkers relationships are also not my problem. Better to accept their weird selves and not insert myself into what annoys me.

I got a haircut, and it looks amazing. Go me.