I went through a process of being intentional about healing for 100 Days straight. It was transformative. I’m not wealthy, popular or traveling the world and living my best life with an Instagram account gaining 100+ followers daily, but I am wiggling out of the cocoon I wrapped myself in following my PTSD diagnosis. I’m fully engaged in work for the first time in a couple of years, and I’m starting to put myself out there. I was just notified that a conference proposal I submitted was accepted. A piece of legislation I wrote will be filed and sponsored. A report I wrote is generating real questions about accountability.
And yet I’m still crashing into bed by 9:30pm, not bothering to brush my teeth or get dressed unless I have to be somewhere, not exercising regularly and not able to put a grocery list together.
I’m listening to audio books to learn more about what I don’t know – how to successfully navigate relationships, my healing brain and being an entrepreneur. I’m reading more about what I don’t know for work – methodologies, law and best practices (and throwing out some of it because my experience tells me it’s not a very sound way to do things, then realizing I have the confidence now to make those calls).
I’m finding myself more attractive.
No really! When I look in the mirror now it’s a much more positive response. I’ve lost 12 lbs but let that stall out for the last couple of weeks before I go back to focusing on where I want to go next.
So the next thing, really, is to decide what’s next. But based on what is best for me, what brings me joy and what makes me excited to get out of bed most mornings, not based on obligations, responsibilities and the belief that I’m not enough. I am. Time to act like it.
I’m working, I’m focused, I’m doing yoga without issue other than that it’s challenging for my body, I’m ignoring things that aren’t important right now, I’m connecting, I’m planning ahead, I’m not pushing myself to do things “just because” or out of some unhealthy sense of obligation, I’m eating for fuel and nutrition and not to cope, I’m sleeping, I’m learning and I am so, so grateful for today <3.
There is a lot from my past that I want nothing to do with. People and places that are tied to traumatic experiences are just…I’m out. Even if that person didn’t do anything negative to me, there are just some things that I would rather leave in the past.
I was working retail when the car wreck happened, and a combination of a super-hateful and negative, passive-aggressive coworker, getting betrayed by my bosses and having undiagnosed PTSD while working 20+ hours a weekend and going to grad school 12 hours a semester during the week…I don’t even want to see former customers. Yesterday I saw a woman with whom I had developed really great rapport at the store, and I was so glad I managed to slip by her unnoticed. I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to bring up that period of my life, I didn’t want to talk about what I’m doing now and I really don’t want to talk about how I’m doing now. I had two good days followed by a rough day, and it was enough that I worked almost a full day in spite of the down day and cooked meals for myself, handled some business for my grandma, reached out to my completely checked out boyfriend and still engaged in some mindfulness work. I didn’t need that shit too.
And I feel no need to face any of that head-on. I think avoiding these things is fine. I think knowing my limits is fine. I think loving myself enough to choose myself and my own well-being over social norms and obligations is fine. And if I’m fine with it, that’s all that matters to me.
My experience with PTSD has included a lot of grief, which tends to be delayed in presenting itself for processing. If I’m stressed (most of the time), if I don’t feel safe (a lot of the time) or if I feel like I have to have my performance face on (also most of the time), my ability to grieve trauma isn’t there… until it is. Usually when I have other things to do, or find it inconvenient to have a tear – streaked face.
I had the weekend off. Actually off, as in no working and no grandma. I hiked, I napped, I went to church for the first time in a while, I slept… all supposedly restorative or restful things. So I was annoyed by increasingly severe anxiety this afternoon. I woke up with anxiety, it ramped up through the morning and after a four hour nap I couldn’t even make myself go to the store for some aloe gel for my sunburned shoulders.
I thought it was because I had to be back at grandma’s tonight, and I’m almost at my limit of being able to be pleasant while dealing with her situation. I get treated like a custodial parent, with a lot more worrying and nagging about how much money my family is spending (which, thankfully, we can afford, but she cannot, and she will not let up about it).
Grief hit me hard, and suddenly. I realized I was grieving for the relationship I lost when my forever turned abusive. The fingers my brother lost in an accident. I don’t even know what else… maybe the part of my brain I lost from the car wreck? I couldn’t stop crying.
And when I needed to sit with the grief and cry it out, I had to get in my car and get back to grandma’s for my shift, which has no space to grieve.
My life, interrupted has pushed off so much of what I need to do to heal, and I’m not that surprised it’s starting to bubble out at inconvenient moments. I wish it were easier to schedule, but trauma processing never is.
Since moving in with my grandma a month ago to care for her after she fell, I have very little free time. I stay with her 100+ hours a week, and am still working 40-50 hours a week. Last night was maybe the second time in a month I’ve slept in my own bed. It was wonderful. And it wasn’t nearly enough.
Skipping the exhausting experience of caring for an older relative for now, I’ve learned in the past month to live in the moments I have free. Rather than chaining myself to my obligations and responsibilities, I take every free moment, whether I’m in the shower at her apartment or driving to or from a project to just live. No mindless existence, sulking about how much has been thrown at me. No accepting my restrictions as unchangeable. Living. And enjoying it.
I’m packing as much into those free moments as I can, whether it’s meetings over coffee or blowing calories on Whataburger or sending birthday cards or getting my garden seedlings transplanted before the rain hits.
I am so limited. I refer to those 100+ hours as jail. But I’m finding freedom in the restrictions. I’m ironically thriving. My relationships are improving. I’ve maintained my weight (usually I pack on pounds during times of intense stress). I have plans. Not plans to travel or go to brunch or do the things that might typically be enjoyable. It’s smaller. More intentional. And so much more than I’ve done previously.
Friends of mine got engaged last night. She’s a trauma survivor with PTSD, and has struggled to accept that he accepts her. I’m thrilled for them, and reminded of what my life isn’t.
And also what it is.
It’s not someone else’s story.
I live firmly rooted in a reality that rarely remains centered on what I want, and often veers so far toward responsibilities, obligations and support for others that I often wonder if I’ll find my way back to myself. I do, because my roots run deep in the center, and as much as I get knocked sideways, I can pull myself back.
Again. And again. And again.
I get stretched a lot.