Fat, Sick and In My Happy Place

I didn’t take the time to decompress the way I needed to so that I could fully embrace being here.

Y’all, my weight gain has hit a level that I finally had to notice. And I’m still congested and occasionally coughing. But I’m in the desert, the sky is clear, the temps are cool and warm and the air is wonderfully dry. Plus every color makes me happy. There is some good energy here. And I’m not sure I’m open to it yet.

I ran around like a mad woman yesterday to get a project proposal delivered on time, then had lunch and a walk with David before I hit the airport. I didn’t take the time to decompress the way I needed to so that I could fully embrace being here. The negative stayed with me, the stress and the being sick with whatever the hell I have and the realization that I couldn’t avoid anymore, that I am feeling pretty fat.

It would be easier to enjoy rockin’ my body if I had the clothes for my larger size, but I am pushing the limits of what I own and this is not a time I want to shop for more. And it just doesn’t feel good. Not much feels good at the moment.

Ashley wrote a post-vacay post via Pressing reset (or maybe just pause) that covered it.

I didn’t take the time to get ready to vacay, so I’m spending the first part of it recognizing that and deciding what to do about it. Yes, let it go and all that, right? I have PTSD, so the fact that I am even able to think through and acknowledge all of this (I did run away, but still have to work today so am sitting in my friend’s office working away before we head out on a hike) while I still have obligations and responsibilities to fulfill.

So here’s to taking a day to figure it out, reset, reframe, clear my desk and be ready to rest tonight and enjoy the hell outta tomorrow…while seeing if I can’t maybe also enjoy the hell outta today.

Chaos Strikes Again

I have a tendency to toss aside all of the things that are important to my health and well-being to manage crisis.

I have mentioned previously that my youngest brother was in a work accident last year, about 8 months ago. My mom was severely ill about six months before that. This weekend my eldest brother (still younger than I) was in the emergency room for anxiety and alcohol-related reasons that I am still not completely informed of. I don’t need to know, honestly, what I do know is that he’s back home for the time being, and in the very difficult first stages of recovery.

The illness and accident were things outside of my experience, and it was easier to jump in and provide care. This is very close to home, because I struggle with similar things. I keep a careful eye on my drinking because I’m fully aware of the family history with substance abuse, and I don’t want to poke that tiger. He’s made a different choice to this point. I do have the anxiety, but there again, I’ve sought help and have worked hard on recovery. He is just now almost being forced to consider recovery.

It’s hard.

Especially since, once again, I am moving on a clear path forward and now my energy is being pulled aside to help deal with the latest family health crisis.

I have a tendency to toss aside all of the things that are important to my health and well-being to manage crisis. I go all in, do all the things and ignore my health. This has been with work, it’s been with family, it’s been with friends…and this time it’s not happening.

If I am proud of one thing, it is that I am no longer willing to compromise my well-being or my goals for someone else in crisis. I have done that too many times, and have paid for it. I’m not where I want to be in life, and a good part of that is because I have put my life on hold to handle someone else’s problem. I just don’t have it in me this time. And this time is a lot more emotional and a lot closer to what could have been me. I can support, I can give hope, I can invite to join, but I cannot fix this, and I do not want to wreck myself in the process.

So I worked my side hustle, I made lunch plans, I’m working hard and I’m still contributing to my brother’s recovery, if not as full-force as I would have in the past. Now to just fit yoga in…

Anti-Dating

I want more. Dating isn’t more, it’s why I stopped trying that.

My latest PTSD episode was a negative experience for both David and I. You can tell someone what it’s like, you can tell them what to expect, but they don’t understand until they experience it with you. Even then, they only see the outside. It’s worse when they think they’re at fault. This really is just about me and what goes on in my brain. I hate that it can hurt someone I care about… and that there wasn’t much I could do to prepare him. I got blindsided and was scrambling to understand what had triggered me. Not a very helpful place to be when you’re trying to communicate what’s going on. Add Xanax to the mix and I don’t even remember most of what I told him. It was probably better for both of us that we had a Christmas pause. I wanted to make a play on words and say Christmas break, but to his credit we didn’t actually break.

We hiked several miles yesterday in the cold to talk about it, without spending too much time talking about it. I knew it had affected him, I just didn’t know how much. I hate that something I can’t control just brought a really wonderful month to a sharp halt. I hate that I killed the fun. I hate that someone hurt me so badly that I have a negative neurologic response that is so severe it put a relationship I value at risk.

I hate dating. I’m terrible at it. So I asked if we could not date. Anti-date, actually.

Dating doesn’t work for me. I like to do what I like to do while living out what I believe. I like creative energy and being productive and dragging people into my schemes and solving problems and drinking good coffee and walking and talking and eating bagels on Saturdays. Once in a while I like to get hella dressed up and blow money on an amazing dinner. Most of the time I like to cook. I like heavy blankets and BBC Masterpiece and pretending I’m athletic. I like people who see the world differently than I and I like ridiculous high heels. I really like burgers that ooze cheese when you bite into them.

I like all of those things by myself. I think I’d like them even more with another person. I think I’d like them more with this person. I like to share things I enjoy with people I enjoy. “Dating” doesn’t seem to really fit that – or me. I want to live my life and invite someone to join me, not spend my time barely scratching the surface and deciding if we have enough chemistry to try to ignore the problems.

When you’ve been hurt deeply, when you’ve broken deeply and when you’re healing deeply, the surface barely registers. It’s not enough to make me look up from my knitting. I want more. Dating isn’t more, it’s why I stopped trying that.

Then average-height, dark and handsome shows up across the table from me and I think I have to date him because that’s what you do.

Until a scratch on the surface digs up something much deeper, and you have to tell someone they’re free to go for fear of what you might pull them into. I had to be painfully vulnerable to hold my hand open and accept we might not be the best thing for each other. Living with PTSD requires courage, and courage is painful.

I drove home in my three most-feared driving conditions – wet, dark and fast. I was so relaxed I was in shower thinking mode.

THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN. 

It indicated how far I’ve come in processing and putting to rest my car wreck. It’s taken two years, but I was on autopilot and concerned with more pressing issues. I’ve beaten it… So I can beat the next one… the one that’s still blindsiding me with trauma. That’s when I said to hell with it all, I’m doing this the way I want. The only way I know how to not run this relationship into the ground before we have a chance to see if we want this to work.

“Let’s anti-date.”

He said ok.

I Got Up and Did Yoga

Something clicked for me last night. Something lit up that said this wasn’t going to happen without intention. Duh.

A few weeks ago I bought a book on mindfulness on the recommendation of my therapist. No secret that I am not where I want to be mentally, and I have not been doing much in the way of things that are highly likely to improve myself and give me an edge in my ongoing battle with PTSD. I’ve been flat losing the battle the last couple of weeks. I think some days I don’t want it enough. It’s misery to wallow in it, but then sometimes I don’t know where to find the energy to push out. Yeah, I’ll confess I’ve been wallowing.

I opened The Mindfulness Toolbox last night while I was spending some quality time with anxiety. Sometimes just opening a helpful book is enough to give me a push forward. I liked the first tool so much – working through how you talk about mindfulness. The author pointed out that mindfulness or meditation can be hangups for people of personal or religious backgrounds that aren’t very open to those words, and offered a lot of other ways to think and talk about mindfulness. I was initially attracted to “take a pause”, but on reflection I realized that is exactly what I don’t want to do. Wallowing in anxiety is a pause – I put my life on pause to do that. If I am going to practice being mindful and really get to working on my brain, I don’t think I want to pause, I think I want to flow.

Have I mentioned that I really like this book? And that was just the first couple of pages.

I also did yoga when I got up this morning. Not “I’ll do it later” or “I’ll do it when I get this other stuff done” or “eh I’m barely in shape to hold a downward dog, maybe I can work my way back up to it”. No excuses, no wallowing, I just went for it…I think for the first time in almost 2 months?

Something clicked for me last night. Something lit up that said this wasn’t going to happen without intention, and no one is going to do it for me (duh, I have overall very little support, much less help, which I am pretty sure contributes to the wallowing). It’s also possible that I am experiencing the emotional distress that my therapist warned me was a possible side effect of going off the meds. That should be temporary, which is good news, but rough while it lasts, which is why it’s good I’m finally opening that book and getting on my yoga mat.

Silence in a Crowded Room

A large, crowded room that had previously been loud with confrontation dropped still and silent for a full minute to acknowledge a value that many of them, I can tell you, didn’t share. And it was because she asked their permission.

I heard a poet speak at a summit yesterday. She gave a really good talk on telling stories, then answered a few questions, a couple of which were asinine. It was somewhat comforting to know that I’m not the only one who gets dumb questions when I talk? She cut off a confrontational-heading set of audience questions at noon, because, as she had asked our permission to do when she began her talk, yesterday was World Peace Day, and we were acknowledging it with a moment of silence.

A large, crowded room that had previously been loud with confrontation dropped still and silent for a full minute to acknowledge a value that many of them, I can tell you, didn’t share. And it was because she asked their permission.

It was the point of her talk. To listen, to value, to ask as a means of moving a group forward to solve problems rather than pushing people aside because you don’t agree with them. She’s a gracious person and nationally recognized for it. It was fitting that the dumb questions (I’m calling them dumb because they were self-servingly political rather than about her work or what she had just told us), which began with a pointed question about how there could even be a story about carrying guns in a room in which a good half of the participants own and/or carry guns (pretty sure about 25% had a gun on them) and ended with the minute of silence when the tension in the room reached tangible levels.

After that minute the tension had dissipated to nothing. She closed to loud applause, and I had to hold myself back from running up to the stage to ask her to take a selfie with me. I hope people took in what she said, but more than that what she did. In the space of an hour she told us how to act then acted on it. It was subtle until the minute of silence, when a room full of people may have actually made a small contribution to world peace.

Starting to Feel My Strength

What has been interesting about this short break is that instead of feeling weak or fat or lazy or other self-critical feelings about my unplanned pause, I felt stronger.

It’s such a good feeling to come out of a PTSD episode (I don’t even know what to call it, so let’s go with that). At the same time my brain started to let off I finished a work deadline with time to spare and some good news about being exempt from a state review. I also got an extra part of the project completed for now and was pleasant in my response to a client rep who leans heavily on an attorney I’ve never met – nor have I agreed to work with. So. Much. Relief.

After pounding out the miles for the last few weeks I hit a wall physically as well as mentally, and I haven’t exercised much in a few days. I just couldn’t. To compare, I’m working out about 12 hours a week on average. So far this week I’m at 3 hours, about half of normal. And that’s ok, because my body said it needed to rest, and I listened for once.

All of this the day before my brother has his next surgery, which will change the family dynamic and schedule once again as we transition to supporting him. Talk about timing! But my brain knows, doesn’t it? Time to get it back together, and time to get back to hitting my carefully-set Fitbit goals. The little tyrant tends to control me.

What has been interesting about this short break is that instead of feeling weak or fat or lazy or other self-critical feelings about my unplanned pause, I felt stronger. I’ve lost 3 lbs in as many days (ok but I did stop eating sugar after that Friday meltdown), I can see more tone to my body and I am willing to be more physical – rather than just walking, I’m ready to start tackling trails, hopping around, on and over rocks and tree roots in a way that is much more challenging than what I have been doing all year to rack up miles.

I watched the intro videos to a power yoga series (I really like DoYouYoga and have found the membership to be well worth it) and my first thought of watching this trim and muscular woman hop into a handstand and switch kick into Warrior I was no freaking way can I do this. I’m 30 lbs overweight, and I don’t have a lot of the body strength it takes to do this kind of cool yoga stuff.

Yet.

I also couldn’t run part of a trail, I also couldn’t get my weight down, I also couldn’t find healthy ways to cope with anxiety, I also couldn’t be a successful business owner, I also couldn’t drive again, I also couldn’t love that hard again, I also couldn’t be comfortable in groups, I also couldn’t focus that long, I also couldn’t grow a garden. Three beautiful avocado trees and a boatload of herbs and citrus later, yes I can.

Maybe I can’t do it yet, but starting to feel my strength is making me think yes, I will.

Good Practice Today (And This Week, Really)

…yes, I admired grass. Like I said, I’m laughing too.

I didn’t really come with a natural ability to chill out, and post-trauma I have had ZERO ability to chill out, so I have to practice.

Yep, I practice being calm and taking care of myself. I know, I laugh at it too.

This week has been one of my best since my brother’s accident about 4 months ago. He was badly injured at work and that put my recovery on pause until recently. I was so focused on him and my family that my brain stopped working through the trauma for a while. Now it’s back, now some emotions and realizations are starting to come back to the surface. It’s a good thing, it’s part of my healing process, part of my recovery. I’m so much better prepared to let my brain resolve things now, so much better at recognizing that after working 3 long and intense days, knocking off work early to go for a hike was a great thing for me to do.

I’m pounding out my stress and anxiety by the mile. I’m over 32 miles since Sunday, which is really good for me! 9 miles today since I walked with a friend and by myself (running is not my favorite, I never get the high), and as much as my feet are sore and my muscles are not happy, I feel really good about it. I am doing this while meeting intense deadlines for clients, spending time with friends, getting hit with the same disaster coverage everyone else is and looking after my “chickens”, the lovely group of young people that I have adopted and who view me as the favorite “Aunt”.

I pushed my practice a step further by pausing on my evening walk to admire the fading rays of the sun illuminating tufts of grass seeds. Sunsets sometimes make the most warm and comforting and happy glow, and I settled into it as I walked along the trail from my neighborhood and yes, I admired grass. Like I said, I’m laughing too. But it was such a good thing to be present and notice simple, pleasant things and not be burdened by things that didn’t exist in that space. It was also a tremendous accomplishment for my brain to do that. Sometimes I practice and fail. Today I practiced and nailed it.

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