I hurt everywhere. My muscles, my joints, the fibers in between that I don’t know enough to name… it all hurts.
I know that the body stores trauma in connective tissue. I had body work done shortly before I started therapy. It was nearly unbearably painful, and I cried for the first few sessions. Nearly three years later (ok wow it’s been a minute) I’m thinking I need to have that done again. After processing so much trauma, I’m feeling like it’s trapped in my body and needs to be released. Even an injured finger joint that doesn’t normally hurt feels swollen and hurts. And I feel like I’ve reached max fat – I feel so puffy and tense and painful that I almost don’t recognize myself.
It’s discouraging to experience this after I’ve been working so hard, but maybe it’s necessary?
I have taken my sweet time to read it, but I’m back to working through The Mindfulness Toolbox: 50 Practical Tips, Tools and Handouts for Anxiety, Depression & Pain.
This section struck me, because it speaks directly to the blurb I wrote about my blog about being a person that likes to get from point A to point B:
An outcome orientation is focused on the future, which often produces worry or anxiety about achieving a desired outcome. In a very real way, it saps the enjoyment and curiosity out of the experience itself.
Learning how to change focus from outcome to present-moment process can be a powerful experience. Most importantly, it reduces anxiety that comes from focusing on expectations and outcome-oriented thinking.
Here are a few examples of outcome orientation:
- Learning for the sake of getting that “A” on a test or report card
- Finishing a work task on time
- Focusing solely on a sports training goal or time
- Getting that promotion at work
- Receiving the highest review from a supervisor
- Making sure the house is always spotless
- Comparing one’s progress against that of others
By shifting awareness to the most minute and tiniest details of one’s experience, the process orientation comes into the foreground. This practice also trains the brain to stay in the moment.
I knew I needed to make an orientation adjustment, and now I know why.
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.
My boyfriend triggered me the other day, and my brain is now reading him as a threat.
He didn’t mean to, but he did something that I’ve previously expressed can be triggering for me. It was a communication issue, and he dropped the ball, so to speak, without having a reason or explanation why. I was PISSED, not only because I had been triggered but now I was facing having to do the work to make him not be a threat. Work I really wasn’t sure I even wanted to do.
Avoiding is easier!
I am working hard to not avoid, to face my challenges and the reasons behind them and I am really trying to heal. It’s hard, it’s scary and it makes me sleep a lot. It makes me react a lot when I even think it should be a fairly calm scenario.
Throw on top of that a person I am close to and trust triggering me because he didn’t bother to do something that is, frankly, common courtesy at least and for me a necessity.
So I did what I have a really hard time doing. In my last decade I had a lot of people run roughshod over my boundaries – a lot of that at work, but trauma stacks up, and I had some traumatizing work experiences. I set a hard line boundary of what I will and will not tolerate, and made peace with whatever outcomes resulted from holding that line.
The result has been both of us working to calm the effects of the trigger, a good weekend, honesty and some teamwork.
Thanks, PTSD. I was wondering if this would happen.
I was minding my own business when I got hit with mental hell. Not really a panic attack, not really anything I can successfully describe, but it was like I got my mental teeth knocked out, and I was reeling. Shit. I still am.
This morning was another episode of unwilling to get outta bed. I have no problem with this, thankfully no one and nothing needed my immediate attention, and I am determined to get as much sleep as I can this week. I’ve had a lot of problems with memory lately – I have a hard time recalling events and feelings, and I have no clue for the most part who I used to be. I was surprised, then, that this morning I clearly remembered the day of my car wreck and the day after.
I remembered that I didn’t stop.
I hydroplaned early afternoon. By 4pm I was at the doctor being checked for a concussion and internal bleeding (which I didn’t have). By 7pm I was at my grandma’s for our weekly tv watching, acting as if nothing had happened (she still doesn’t know I had a car wreck). By 7am the next morning I was at Enterprise renting a car and by 9:30am I was sitting in law class, on time and with my books and notes.
It never stopped after that. I worked 50 hours a week and was in grad school full time (12 hours a semester). The couple of times I have tried to slow down I’ve had a close family member have an critical injury or a medical crisis.
I’m not really surprised that I’m starting to see some of the harder to deal with symptoms of PTSD. All the digging around in my brain I’m doing is likely to stir up some hard to deal with moments, including the ones I can’t explain or understand or manage very well. And I have very little capacity for additional stress right now, so work emails and some text messages are setting me off.
But dammit, I’m going to do this.
And trying to recover.
I spent the end of the week/early weekend in meetings, but a very generous friend let me crash her cottage, so other than feed myself and show up on time, I had no responsibilities. It was glorious. There was a lot of wine. And it was enough of a quiet space that by Sunday I was back in the middle of digging through the piles of trauma I haven’t yet sorted out.
I disassociate. I don’t get my heart involved but hide behind going through the motions. I fear something as yet unnamed.
The insight from my therapist this morning hit me hard. It was rough to hear what she had to say. I cried a lot. Lately I cry a lot in therapy. But beneath the tears I was happy, because hard as it is, this is what I want. I want to heal, even if it hurts.