As I’ve worked – so hard – to repair what I can of my brain, I’ve hidden at home a lot. Leaving the house for work and necessary errands is usually enough for me to handle, and it feels like a long time since I’ve been social. I don’t go out. I don’t have that many friends nearby (most of my close friends are in other states or countries and I keep them forever but also don’t see them often) and I haven’t really exercised in something like a month (the weight loss thing has made me stay in more than usual, and I reckon will keep me in until I can fully resolve that one). I haven’t always been like this, and it’s not a form of existence I particularly like, so I find myself increasingly pondering thoughts like, “I wish I were strong enough to do ___________________________ (fill in the blank).
It’s not just weight loss.
Some friends asked if I wanted to join them in a few months for a short trip, and invited my boyfriend to join. I’m really looking forward to this, and a lot of the trip will be new to me. I couldn’t get boyfriend to commit to going, so I decided to book my own trip and leave him to join later if he wants.
Living. Making bold decisions. Doing what I enjoy. It’s what I’ve worked so hard to do – go on a trip with friends I know I’ll value for years, and for no better reason than they asked and I want to. So I let my boyfriend know I was going without him, booked my flights, and promptly had a meltdown.
Doing what I want, for me, is a trigger. Living a big life is a trigger. Doing things that hold connection and enjoyment for me is a trigger.
No wonder I stay home and work.
I’ll just add that to the list of neuron paths to reprogram…
I’ve needed some space to think.
I have big dreams, great plans and a love for life bubbling up from somewhere deep. I have creativity that yearns to be expressed and a comfortable in her hard-earned skin person that wants to be seen.
I haven’t given her the space to emerge, because I’ve been covering her up, first because I thought everything was a threat and then because my protectors were disappearing and I started actually hiding from the world.
I’m learning that one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves is meet our own needs. I’m doing that by taking a well-timed opportunity for quiet and space this weekend. I stepped away from my to-do list, my chores and my habits and placing myself in a comfortable space that is a bit of a mental void. There’s only what I bring in and what I allow to stay, and helps me engage with the practice of choosing what I want to bring into my life and what I want to stay. It’s a retreat of sorts, but I’m (for once) not retreating, I’m pausing and forming so that I can step forward and live in more light than darkness.
Be kind to yourself, and give yourself what you need. You’re worth it.
I’m back in neutral. It’s such a tenuous place, and I expect to be thrown out of it at any moment. Not exactly being present or living in the moment, but it’s going to take a lot of practice for me to be able to be comfortable with not freaking out. That may sound ridiculous, but the constant scan for threats to my perceived safety and security is beyond hard to turn off.
I’m noticing that I’m starting to be able to find some balance. It’s been nearly manic activity or hiding in bed for so long, and now, even if initially I find a task to be challenging, I can usually calmly consider it and get to a place that I can tackle it. If I don’t want to do something I think about it until I can calmly approach it. I even considered doing something that I then decided would be too stressful and told myself no.
Creativity is slowly starting to unfurl in my brain. I get little bits and pieces, glimpses of ideas and a hint of the motivation to pursue it. I’ve been in survival mode, then get standing mode, for so long that it feels like a new game to begin to get close to moving forward. And I’m kind of looking forward to it, and starting to believe I can.
My boyfriend and I continue to have difficult conversations. I keep doubting I have the energy to keep going, but I keep pushing through.
We don’t have anything to hide behind. We don’t have money and job security, we don’t have a lot of time together, we don’t have a long history of trust and connection, we don’t even have a certain belief that we belong together. It’s fucking hard.
Because we don’t have anything to hide behind, and because we’re both sticking with the difficult conversations long enough to get past the darts and jabs, we’re starting to get honest. The kind of honest where you face shame and admit you’ve been hiding things because you’re not sure they’ll like you anymore if they know. The kind of honest where you say what isn’t ok. The kind of honest where you admit you might be the problem but this little bit is all you know and you haven’t learned enough to figure out the rest yet.
I’m not sure how many people ever get this honest in a relationship, but I don’t think many do it within the first nine months. It takes more courage than I knew I had. And I do it because I believe I matter enough to speak and hear the truth. To not walk away because I’m scared and this is really hard, but because walking away is the right thing for me. And I don’t know that yet because I don’t have enough information.
And there’s no backing down now, because we’re here, rumbling with the truth no matter how scary or how hard. AND IT’S HARD. I’m still not in neutral, and I’m not comfortable with some of the surprises I’m getting. I’m constantly in high threat mode and no one else is bringing me back down to my version of calm. While I’m rumbling with a really painful series of realizations about who I am and how I got here.
But worth it, because I’m worth it. And so is he.
Yesterday pushed me to my limit. And I don’t like to admit that, because I don’t like to admit I have limits. I’m tough! I can handle anything! But after walking up at 4:30am because a flying, wasp-like insect was banging into surfaces in my bedroom (I thought they slept at night???) and trying to kill it for over half an hour so I could go back to sleep… after getting into a situation fraught with conflict for a new client, after agreeing with my business partner on the procedure for us to separate, after hours of entering hard to find budget numbers for an analysis, after being called to sit outside in the heat to drink a beer when I’d rather nap, AND AFTER FINDING A SCORPION ON THE WALL NEXT TO THE TOILET WHEN I RETURNED FROM A DINNER EVENT…
It took a long time to calm down and sleep. And I’m back up early to do it again today. My nerves are shot to hell and I don’t have a retreat or a safe space (or boundaries?) here. But I’m doing the best I can.
I slept hard and dreamt again. While I don’t remember much of the dream, I knew very shortly after I woke up what it was about. I was processing having a hidden illness.
I don’t know if it’s because I could realize it or because it was processed, but I don’t feel hung up on having an invisible illness anymore. It doesn’t feel like a burden or weight to have experiences that no one else can see. I don’t feel a need to run around shouting about being broken by trauma, but I also don’t feel my usual aversion to humans in the context of debating whether to hide or reveal my struggles. I simply feel neutral on the topic, and that whatever I choose to hide or reveal is exactly that – my choice.
I’ve made a few steps forward in being regulated – I brushed my teeth and went to bed on time last night. The next step for me is beginning to journal.
I had a post-trauma ritual of recording re-traumatizing experiences as a sort of recorded narrative that served to reinforce the trauma rather than release it. For that reason I have a negative association with journaling. When my therapist suggested I try it, I was not interested until she pointed out that may be something I take back – reclaim as a beneficial thing instead of a negative. I think it’ll help me to sort out the dreams, the slowness and the feeling that only my lowest level cognitive abilities are functioning.
And I am not going to go buy a new journal and go through some ritual of needing a new book and a new pen and nice writing and whatever. I am using the small, blank book the stalker gave me the day I met him in Paris. That day and what happened after made my experience of enjoying myself and attracting energy a liability, and I have not been that person – A PERSON I ENJOYED IMMENSELY – since. Maybe this will help reclaim that too.