Waking Up Lonely

There are times that my introspection becomes overwhelming. I haven’t yet learned to moderate it – although I was so numbed out for years that there’s a lot built up.

I really miss having a lot of people over for meals. I used to entertain quite a bit, and had a large group of friends and acquaintances who were happy to appear at my command when I wanted to cook.

I love to feed people, and I love to cook. Which I no longer do.

My family has been through a lot in the past two years, and through part of that and prior to the start of a series of traumas I cooked for everyone. I liked it, and was good at it. Now that my mom isn’t working and has turned her energy to caring for my grandmother, she has pushed me out of the kitchen. It’s her domain, right down to washing the dishes.

My mom was not a good cook when I was a kid. I have zero good memories of her food, and a lot of bad ones. It’s different now, and she makes great food, but she also leaves no room for me to do what I love.

She gets really anxious about cooking for holidays. I mean weeks of freaking out and planning and more freaking out and lunch two hours late and panic about the turkey not thawing in time. Every. Holiday. So I started cooking holiday meals myself, because I like it, it’s not hard for me, I can do it to the nines in 5 hours, it’s perfectly cooked and timed, and mom doesn’t stress us all out. And I get to feed people, which I love.

But now that’s she’s back in charge of the kitchen, we’re back to the unnecessary anxiety of Thanksgiving. I say unnecessary, I don’t know what it is that bothers her so much, she’s not one to discuss feelings. I do think it’s unnecessary because she knows she can just let me handle it. But she doesn’t. I’ve been pretty much ignored, and this morning she was going on about making my brother her sous chef to get things prepped tonight so that she doesn’t have to do them tomorrow. She would also rather cook everything tonight and microwave it tomorrow.

No.

I feel pretty ignored by my mom, which is usual since I’m the only one with an (mental) illness that she has not stepped in to help, and she seems to have forgotten how smoothly things have gone the last five years when she just let me cook. And now she and my brother, who get really extra around each other, will be spreading their manic energy all over the kitchen, which was once my place of calm. And I’m going to…find something else to do, or else suck it up and join, because these are not two people who reflect much on their own issues and behavior.

Yeah, I know, get my own place, do something else (i.e. leave the country) for holidays, tell them how I feel, etc. But you also know that family isn’t that easy, and that doing the best thing for yourself often has consequences that you’d rather avoid. I would. So here we are.

Hello Work Trigger!

I had a pretty great morning lined up with a mentor meeting followed by lunch with a friend. The morning was still great, but it was a bit disrupted by an email I received regarding a former project. The person claimed that a document amendment process had not been followed correctly and did I have a copy of the document that was supposed to have been used for the formal adoption?

Nope. That would have been your job or the attorney’s job…yes? This person was not my client, they are part of an ongoing sabotage attempt against my client, and apparently forgot who works for who in this situation…and who is good and who is not good at their job. I called my client to check for any back story information before I responded, then went on with my plans.

I checked into the paper trail when I got back to my office and found that this person was incorrect, procedure had been correctly followed and they were only reading the new rules, not the old rules. Old rules didn’t have that requirement (which is why I wrote it in for the new rules) so this hunt for non-existent paperwork was unnecessary.

Which this person would have know if they had done their job correctly. They have every file and document that I have. I know this, because I delivered it to them myself.

Anxiety – the heart-racing, curl up and vomit kind – hit as soon as I sent my brief response referencing the relevant document sections.

One of the reasons I now work for myself is that I spent about ten years working for people who were abusive and who constantly discredited my abilities and my knowledge. It may have pushed me to be really good at what I do, but it left some scars – one of which is clearly my PTSD response when my work abilities are questioned without merit.

I’m gonna go meditate now…and hope my heart rate strap arrives soon…

Lessons from Tim Gunn

I admire Tim Gunn so much. I think he’s brave. I think he’s thoughtful. I think he’s present. I think he’s kind. I think he’s a good mentor and compassionate and authentic and dapper. I would like to hang at his place for apps and drinks at the kitchen island and end up staying too long because he was imparting wisdom to me.

He’s known for the phrase “Make It Work”, which has so much appeal.

We love work. We love making things. We love making it work. It’s really the ultimate American statement of encouragement and challenge and grit and character, and it’s what John Wayne did.

On the surface.

Tim Gunn is known for being the mentor on Project Runway and throwing down the “Make It Work” challenge when a designer is lost or stuck making something horrible but time is running too short to completely start over unless you really have it together in the sewing and construction department. I relate, because I went to design school and we did that a lot – your design is really bad until you are up against the clock and you have to pull it together and produce something by the time class starts. Sometimes you get really efficient and focused. Sometimes your ideas come together and you produce something worthwhile. Make It Work is the way forward in those situations – take what you have, no matter how bad or messy and make something out of it.

Really though, sometimes you can’t make it work. And I think that’s where you have to dive a bit into the statement. What isn’t said? What else is in those three short words?

Make It Work For You.

And if it isn’t, then get your hands on something that does. The fabric was a terrible choice? Maybe there is another one available if you look around for it. The design was horrible and unflattering? Conjure up a different design. Your collection isn’t cohesive? Scrap some things and get real with yourself about what does work and else you need to complete the picture.

It wasn’t just an admonition to make the best you could of the bad situation and being stuck with the bad situation, it was evaluating whether the situation was even working for you, and if not, scrapping it in favor of something that did.

It was and is really good advice. Thanks, Tim! You mentored me too.

100 Days of Healing – Day 50

I’m getting a little tired of a juice diet, and I’m feeling really tired for the first time this week. I made a cake this morning, and not licking my fingers even once was much harder than I expected. But I did it. Two more days.

When my boyfriend and I talked about what happened Tuesday, we had completely different perceptions of what had happened. So now I’m wondering if this goes in the category of Big Misunderstanding or Relationship-Ending Behavior. I don’t know if my expectations are way off and I’m part of the communication problem and my perception is skewed by experiencing such a bad trigger, or if I’m right in line with what’s best for me.

What I have realized through this is that “You’re not valued”, however that message comes across to me, is the worst trigger I experience. It makes me bolt. Shut down, get out, get away, done. And I don’t even know where to begin with that one.

100 Days of Healing – Day 28

I got punched in the brain by my own brain last night. Shit.

One texted sentence that was completely innocuous lined up trauma after trauma after trauma in my brain, then jetted straight down that neuron path and off the rails. It was one of the fastest trigger-to-panic attack experiences I’ve ever had, and wow does the mind work fast.

I was at the start of flossing and brushing my teeth when it happened, so I kept on with that, and it kept me steady enough that when I finished I started to slowly climb through the wreckage to try to figure out what had just happened. I decided that was a great time to quit the day and go to bed, still carefully stepping through what could have done that.

Ah. That word, that experience, that feeling, what I’ve been concerned about for the last few weeks…and my brain connected them all and clubbed itself with it. Shit.

I woke up early because of my neighbor’s diesel truck, and had a lot of anxiety as soon as I woke up. I never like that, and usually try to go back to sleep to see if I calm down. I didn’t. I dreamt that I got a text message from a stranger, and because I opened it he was able to hack my phone, then my computer, so I was trying to work on my computer but realized I was being hacked and I couldn’t stop it and I didn’t want him to have what was on my computer but was still getting text messages that my phone wouldn’t let me delete or block. I got to the point that I knew I needed to wake up to get out of the dream, but when I started waking up I experienced sleep paralysis and I left my body for a few moments.

I’ve heard of trauma survivors feeling as though they experienced things from outside their body or being paralyzed, but I haven’t experienced those things myself until this morning. I didn’t like it, I had really high anxiety, and I went right back to sleep because I just couldn’t deal.

I’m cognitively pretty slow today. I was waking up when my boyfriend called, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting what tumbled out of my mouth. I mean, who would? It was enough to make me get up and eat breakfast, and I’ve decided to stick with the easier side of what I need to get done today. I have a project my mom needs me to do for my grandma and I’m supposed to be at a bridal shower this evening with a gift and recipe in hand. I can do that. I think. Maybe.

I don’t feel like this was a setback, just a big bump that maybe blew a tire? It was a lot to handle, but I’m glad that I have been able to bring myself back to center while being forgiving toward myself about what I can and cannot do today.

100 Days of Healing – Day 16

As I’m “catching up to now”, processing unprocessed trauma, one of the hardest things for me about processing trauma is reliving it. Having to feel things I didn’t the first time because I was shut down or unable to while I was trying to survive what was happening.

Last year my parents were going away for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary early. They never went because my brother’s work injury happened on Thursday.

Fast forward a year and some change, and my parents are going a couple of towns over for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary. I am completely freaked out and have to stay close to home.

Because it’s a trigger. Because my brain tells me that my brother gets hurt when my parents plan to go out of town. If I go somewhere I won’t be available if there is an emergency. THERE IS GOING TO BE AN EMERGENCY.

This is now affecting my willingness to move forward with my travel plans, because I HAVE TO BE HOME THIS WEEKEND quickly turns into I CAN NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE. I go through waves of panic the whole time I’m trying to calm myself and disconnect the things that don’t belong together – trauma and my parents leaving town.

I got four solid days of work in this week, and I’m glad for that because yesterday I had to retreat back into processing space to deal with this.

When Someone You’re Close to Triggers You

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!

But.

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.