What if I took all those frustrations and re-framed them into positive observations? Would it help?
I just about lost my shit this morning when I got home from the store. It rained all morning, and by the time I was hauling a loaded cart out to my car it was pouring. It rained so hard that some of the streets were flooded on my way home, and my street was partly flooded. I unloaded wet bags or groceries and jugs of water (our water tastes weird at the moment), nearly busted my ass slipping on the threshold, got it all put away in my mom’s chaotic kitchen and discovered that the box on the porch was the cane I had ordered from my grandma that we thought hadn’t arrived.
I was checking my Amazon orders last night to see if anything might not arrive this week, and saw that the new walking cane was supposed to have been delivered on Friday. No one had seen the box, so I reported it missing and requested another. From what I can guess, it was delivered to a neighbor and they brought it to my door this morning…4 days later. I couldn’t cancel the Amazon replacement in time to not have them send me one unnecessarily, but…thanks, neighbors. If I get a package by mistake I take it over immediately. I guess I have a spare cane now for someone who need it though.
I was in such a foul mood about all of this and the grocery crazy especially that I was about to lose it. The PTSD thing I live with? Stress can quickly light a short fuse. I stopped myself though and thought, “What if I didn’t complain?”
What if I didn’t complain about this? What if I found the positive, that we can afford all of these groceries and that we needed the rain and that it isn’t also cold and that I got things done early and have plenty of time to start baking for tonight and go to the store again later for my grandma’s stuff and the cake box I need to pick up? What if I didn’t complain for a week? What if I took all those frustrations and re-framed them into positive observations? Would it help? Would it not?
Holidays are hard for those of us with anxiety.
I am a bucket of cliches right now. Dating during the holidays, stressed about getting everything done (just bought and began sending out Christmas cards today!), blowing off work to decorate and snuggle, everything is feeling merry and bright…it’s a hard turn to the right from where I was last year. Hell, it’s a hard turn to the right from where I was two months ago.
My aunt, who doesn’t know about David yet, sent me a holiday card with a cute bit of paper mistletoe, with wishes for holiday kisses. I laughed because she was so on point for me this year! I’m going to make good use of it too…
We’re in a bit of a sticky spot for the holidays this year with my family. My mom, who is still recovering from the trauma of my brother’s accident, is being a little grinchy. She isn’t really working right now, but what work she is doing is challenging because of some misbehaving employees. It stresses her out because she isn’t there to be in control, and it – along with a lot of other concerns – are smothering her holiday spirit. She didn’t want me to make cookies, she has been a bit mean about decorating the inside and outside trees, and I don’t want to upset her (and I’m still not sure what all of this is about), so I didn’t make a big deal about any of it and quietly went about tree decorating and light wrapping. She hasn’t been very appreciative, but then again she isn’t throwing any more fits about it. I’ll take it. My dad may not make it back from a work trip for Christmas, and one of my brothers was a no-show at Thanksgiving because of drama with his ex, so maybe she just isn’t in a place to make some effort that may not see the results she wants.
I’m trying to help my grandma through Christmas, and have the job of getting her new assisted recliner to her. My uncle dumped this on me, and she isn’t going to be happy because she doesn’t like new things or being old. It’s a lot of emotional energy to care for my grandma, and holidays are that much more work with her because she has gotten pretty negative about it. She can’t do what she used to, so she just doesn’t participate.
So where is the magic? It’s in me doing it anyway, in not letting my family take me down, in spending time with a many I deeply enjoy getting to know in the middle of my crazy schedule and taking time out to make Christmas a great thing for people who aren’t able to make that happen for themselves. Holidays are hard for those of us with anxiety. Holidays are hard for those of us who have survived trauma and who care for our families, for those of us who are surrounded by more negativity than joy. If you’re in that place, I hope you find some holiday magic to help you through. I’m so very grateful for mine.
My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful.
I mentioned in therapy yesterday that I am done with 2017. I’m done with work, done with social engagements and all I want to do is sleep in comfy pajamas and bake in between reading books and sipping tea. Really, in two more weeks I can do that, but I don’t want to wait two more weeks. Even a week and a half.
I think a lot of other people are feeling this. We’re done. This year was rough, there has been a LOT of trauma and anxiety and negative energy, and I want to just bubble up and pretend it doesn’t exist for a bit. My emotions need a break, and I want to do things that are comforting and not the least bit stressful. I want to do things that bring me joy and that are gratifying to others. I’ve spent so much energy trying to hold it together this year that I am depleted and in need of rest, rest I haven’t taken the time for because…reasons.
Maybe a re-frame is better. Maybe I’m not done for the year, maybe I’m done expending energy on anxiety for the year. Maybe I’m done expending energy on externalities for the year. Maybe for the rest of the year my energy will go toward positive things that bring me joy rather than black holes of negativity. I think I’ll be in a much better position to give in the new year.
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.
…they took in all of the love their friends brought for them and multiplied it into the stars.
I attended a friend’s wedding last night. It was probably the most romantic ceremony and certainly one of the most fun receptions I’ve ever attended. The brides put every bit of themselves into the wedding, and they took in all of the love their friends brought for them and multiplied it into the stars. Love was spoken, love was given and love was accepted. Their vows were so memorable and so meaningful. I have heard the standard church vows so often, heard the nerves, smiled at a little awkwardness. These women brought us all to tears with the sincerity and authenticity of voicing their commitment to each other.
I hope we who were there all hold that moment as a precious experience and a memory to draw on when we’re tempted to respond harshly, when we become angry and when shit just gets too hard. Beauty exists, and it is worth holding onto.
I was so honored to have been invited to share in their joy, and to honor that invitation I am keeping the memory close at hand.