You know the when you’ve been struggling with situations that you don’t really understand and are frustrated that the outcomes not only don’t match your expectations but you can’t really connect to the issue? Just me?
This week it’s been fear. The underlying issue in so many of the situations I’ve struggled through is fear. And I don’t immediately recognize it because I’m not connected to my center. I’m stressed, overwhelmed and straying from being present, so I can’t see it. Until I step away from the chaos, get a good sleep, take my time to wake up and…ah. There it is.
Usually it’s me that’s fearful. This time it’s fear in others that I want to tackle head-on. I want them to be aware, to see it and to give it a name. And at some point it will come back to me, because choices will be made that will push me to choose, and fear will undoubtedly be part of the equation. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m not enough? What will I do next? What if I get hurt? What if it gets worse?
I have stayed stuck by fear for a long time. As I push my way out of it and work to open up my life and myself to a way of living that isn’t based in fear, I’m learning how often fear is at the root of an issue, and trying to be aware so I can give it a name and release it.
I avoided hard today. I had more dreams last night and woke up overwhelmed, so it was hard to get my brain together enough to get up and on with my day. I handled the phone call and meeting I had to attend and commiserated with my brother over his girlfriend dumping him with no explanation (real explanation is her parents are crazy and constantly interfered). I finished the set of earrings I’ve been working on that don’t look anything like I wanted them to (I need different beading thread that isn’t as stiff). I didn’t do much else. I feel like I can’t do much else, and the earring was just to keep my hands busy while I watched some tv after the meeting to help calm myself down and detach.
I thought a lot about self care and routine for me. I can barely make myself shower, brush teeth and wash dishes right now, and I’m trying to work out in my head that if those are the only things I tell myself I have to do the rest of the week and not the other stuff (work, etc.), maybe they won’t seem so daunting?
The hard thing for me about taking this time out to let my brain process is that I don’t know how long it will take. It felt like things were starting to look up yesterday, which is maybe why today is that much more difficult. I declined again today instead of improving, and I really want to improve so that I can get to doing and being what I want to do and be. As so many of you know, if your head isn’t in the right place for that, it’s nearly impossible, and I forced myself through for long enough that I can’t even really do that anymore.
I’ve realized over the weekend that I can come across as cold. My guardedness toward potential triggers, being overwhelmed and not being able to control or escape things I don’t like leaves a bit of a snarky shell, and it’s not a good look.
As I’ve given myself the time to rest, sleep and dream so that my brain can get busy processing (and has it been busy processing!), revelations about what things I don’t like about myself are coming to the forefront. So.
I’m not sure how I feel about letting my guard down, but I do know I want to be less cold. I can pretend in social situations in which it feels expedient to be talkative and responsive, but none of that gets below the surface. So.
Time to practice being less cold.
I’ve leaned into healing this week. I’m still listening to Healing From Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide, and I’ve had to face up to my post-experience and the symptoms that are and aren’t going away. I’ve found that I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck – enough to limit my range of motion. I’ve had a couple of mild headaches. I hurt everywhere at times. I have muscle spasms at times. I have intense and lengthy dreams every night, and yesterday woke up with only survival brain functioning and not much else.
I went for walks anyway. I listened to the book anyway. I did yoga anyway. I slowly stepped forward with work anyway. I ate nutritious food anyway. I ignored all social obligations that were just obligations and not things I truly wanted to do. I handled some banking and finance transactions that needed to happen, I made the beginnings of a plan to run my company solo (my business partner has abandoned me but still has to be officially terminated from the business and we have yet to discuss any of it because he bailed out and has not bothered to communicate). I also made a backup plan for work in case that doesn’t work out.
I’m going to heal anyway.
I haven’t been intentional about it until now. I’m waking up to how often I disassociate, how much memory I don’t have because I wasn’t present, how numb I am, how overwhelmed I am, how often I am in survival mode. I’m still surviving, not living, and I am now starting to understand why.
THIS IS HARD. I’m going to do it anyway.
The next 100 days will end sometime near the end of September, close to the 5-year mark of the week of trauma that nearly took me down. And for the next 100 days, I’m going to be intentional about healing and see where I get.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last week.
I use numbing to cope, and have for a long time. Now it makes sense why I don’t miss people, why I don’t feel deep affection for anyone and why a lot of personal affronts don’t upset me.
I live in a near-constant state of OVERWHELMED, and I often wake up already there, which is why mornings can be so challenging for me. Which is why a lot of things are so challenging for me. Why I can get really upset by being asked to do something that is otherwise simple and easily accomplished.
I’ve been dreaming every night lately, and I dream in full technicolor. I’m aware of it and know that my brain is doing a lot of processing while I sleep, but last night I couldn’t get away from a snake, and woke up feeling physically trapped, in pain and disoriented. It was horrible, and I went back to sleep so that I didn’t have to deal with whatever was going on. It’s the first time that has happened, and when I did start to wake up for the day, I was hesitant to do so because I woke up with so much anxiety, and I felt completely overwhelmed before my feet even hit the floor.
I’ve been handling a lot of things I’d been putting off this week, so I may have just adulted too hard. Or the processed trauma is building up in my body and needs to be released. Either way, or any way, one step at a time today until I feel more sturdy on my feet.
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.