As I listened to Chapter 3 of Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide I noticed I was experiencing some of the trauma symptoms the narrator was describing. I was tensing up, getting a headache and tightening inward, as if to curl into a ball and protect myself. I was aware I was doing this (mindfulness practice seems to be showing some results!) and unclenched my jaw and rolled my shoulders a bit.
I’ve noticed also during yoga, which I’m practicing more regularly again, that I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my shoulders. There are positions that are really challenging for me, like making a bridge with my fingers pointed toward my feet or clasping my hands behind my back and straightening my arms. I didn’t remember that being the case previously, but a lot of times I blame weight gain for my yoga practice challenges.
Oh…wait…trauma response…tight shoulders…
I’m not sure if it’s more freeing or discouraging to realize that my lack of flexibility and range of motion is due more to trauma than my fat rolls, but it does provide a path forward, and a solution – more yoga!
That was advice from my therapist, who explained to be that in very simplified terms, people either drain you (introvert) or energize you (extrovert).
People drain me.
One of my new goals as I try to practice a lifestyle that leads (hopefully!) to fewer panic episodes and less anxiety is to be much more mindful about the things that push me over the edge of the panic cliff, and about letting stress build up until my brain freaks out and quits.
I’m in week two of wanting to mostly stay in bed, so this seems like pretty good goals.
I don’t really rest much. I haven’t in years. I don’t take vacations that act like vacations, I don’t schedule down time, I don’t pause – I just speed through life then crash and burn and get up and do it again.
I spoke on a panel yesterday evening about two hours from where I live, so spent a lot of the later part of the day in the car or talking to a room full of people. I really enjoyed it, the topic is of real interest to me and my fellow panelists were very informed on the topic. I stopped for dinner with a friend on the way home, got home at midnight and went to bed.
I woke up at 10:30 this morning. I slept hard.
This evening I’m back at another program, although I’m not speaking at this one, and it’s not quite as far away but it’s very similar. So, trying to learn from yesterday and be mindful of how I feel, I’m taking an hour or two this afternoon to be quiet and still before I hop in the car and go be work me around a lot of people. Then tomorrow I will plan some down time during the day so that I don’t get too rushed and overwhelmed as I recover from this last big PTSD episode.
My brother gave me Jabra Elite ear buds for Christmas to replace the ear buds that came with my phone. I had ruined them by getting caught in a couple of thunderstorms last summer, and he went above and beyond on the gift. They’re great.
They pair with an app, which I finally downloaded today. As I look at ways to mindfully improve my health, I’m going to have to put in some cardio. I haven’t done that since my car wreck. It was just too much for my brain to handle high intensity exercise.
Now, however, I’m at a point in recovery that I can start pushing myself to make some physical health gains, and I’m doing it with some limitations on what and where I can do it since I’m caring for my Grandma 4-5 days a week.
Do what you can, where you can though! So I downloaded the app, and it told me to run for 15 minutes to check my VO2. Haha, I don’t run, and I’m certainly not able to run for 15 minutes! What a joke! Do only people who are already fit own these? I don’t get a runner’s high, and I hate running.
I did it though. I stayed focused on my breathing, made reasonable goals along the way, went back to my breathing to try to keep a rhythm, and toward the end checked the time a few times.
My health level is poor.
No kidding. That’s why I’m doing this.
I have the new phone, the new laptop is here and I’m still rigging my way around the challenges of staying with my grandma.
I unintentionally slowed my roll on mindless stress eating this week. I mean I know I cut way back on sugar and gluten, and I mostly quit snacking, but I don’t know that it was with some big diet intention.
I sit around a lot in a dark apartment, and this crisis wasn’t going to make me gain weight too, is all.
My PTSD brain likes sugar. So. Much. Sugar, carbs and fat are my drug of choice since I don’t smoke and rarely drink, and right now my brain is pissed that it’s not getting what it wants.
Y’all. I didn’t even get any food at Chick-Fil-A when I stopped by for my free bottle of water.
My brain is so pissed.
I had the idea that I could only did this when I was in a low stress time and could really delve into food and fitness changes. Once again I’m surprising myself with what I can do with mindfulness.
And a new makeup bag to fit all of my new makeup…
I know I have a specific set of limits. If I don’t eat, my blood sugar drops and I get pissed at everything. If I don’t stay hydrated it’s a similar experience. If I don’t stay hydrated and I’m out in the sun I’m likely to vomit or pass out.
Drink water. Eat. It’s that simple.
So simple I forgot, so when all I had all day was coffee and beer and eventually some fried fast food garbage, I hit PTSD panic hard. Everything was bad, I couldn’t communicate, couldn’t figure out what I needed and couldn’t hit the pause button to stop and sort it out.
And I was pretty sure none of it was my fault.
Somewhere in the back of my head I’m probably resentful that I need that much effort to not go to pieces. I was busy and had a packed travel schedule, and didn’t want to take the time to do what I needed. Well, that’s going to have to stop.
I almost did it again this morning by not eating breakfast till 11 and then…
Drink water. Eat. No meltdown (at least not today).
I’ve been feeling change the last month or so, like it’s time to move into a new phase of recovery. Once upon a time I think I might have been who I was meant to be. I’m starting to feel like I’m there again. This there is different from that there, but I’m there, and I don’t want to be stuck in a place of not-fully-realized me.
I’m working out what it is that I want, what I can live with, what I can live for, how much capacity I really have and just how much I’m willing to let go.
If I ignore much of what my therapist says about how to put myself first, if I go my own way about this, if I stop fighting, if I move to a state of free – flow giving… What happens?
If I open my hands and let go, if I let what returns to me stay, if I don’t hold on but hold out a hand… What happens?
If I stopped worrying about how you feel or don’t feel about me and be who I am regardless, what happens?
If I stop worrying about whether I have enough to give and just give what’s there, what happens?
I don’t want to hold the negativity that surrounds me. I’d rather let it flow in and back out because it doesn’t have a place with me. I’d rather have so much outflow that it can’t flow in. I’d rather trust that God provides and that’s enough, one less thing to concern myself with and one more thing to observe with gratitude.
A word has stayed with me over the last year as I’ve endured one trial after another. Not one I chose or a “word of the year”, rather one that came to me, that I’ve grappled with, that expresses the complexity of my experience.
It is used in different ways in English. It means a few things to me.
First it was that I’d had enough. How much could a person endure? I’ve since learned not to ask that question. Then I wondered if I could do enough, if I had the capacity to do what was required of me. I’ve struggled with believing I am enough, that what I offer and what I can do is sufficient.
There aren’t many aspects of “enough” I haven’t contemplated, worked through, worked around and sought to understand. I’ve looked at the concept expressed in Scripture, linking the idea of fullness and completion to the concept of “enough”. It’s notably part of Jesus’s teaching on forgiveness – how many times do you forgive? Essentially, “enough”. He said 70 x 7, but those words were symbolic, not a literal 490.
I’ve been so challenged by this word. But I think the challenge is past and the practice is present. To live with “enough”, peacefully.
I’ve had enough.
I have enough.
I am enough.