I don’t often have nightmares. I don’t recall ever having a triggering nightmare, although I don’t tend to retain memories of triggers so I may have just forgotten. That all changed the other night when I started awake at 3:30 in absolute terror. I had been dreaming that I was riding home with my mom and instead of turning left onto our street, she turned right and we were facing the street dead ending into a cornfield. Sirens were suddenly blaring, lights were flashing red, it was the end of the world, people were starting to appear, screaming, the car hit something, she was dead and I was crumpled in the passenger floor board.
It took over an hour for me to calm down enough to go back to sleep.
I rarely have literal dreams. I don’t remember having dreams that resemble flashbacks. I don’t have flashbacks. It was so literal, and so related to the car wreck that broke my brain. It was horrible and terrifying and shocking after I’ve worked so hard at recovery and have experienced something like that so seldom, especially after the 5 years it’s been.
I wrecked in early October. We’re approaching that time, and I don’t want to make a deal of it. One year, maybe year 3, it didn’t bother me and I seem to remember sailing through like it was past. That doesn’t seem to be true, and I think part of the difficulty I’m having now is related to an approaching trauma anniversary. Maybe because I’ve dragged so much up to deal with? Maybe because I’ve dug so deep? That answer feels like the right one, much as I hate it. I hear the body keeps score, after all. And I still need to read that book.
I feel like I’ve hit the floor of whatever hole I’ve been in. Not in a “hit rock bottom” way, more in a “fall through whatever rungs were left and now have to both repair the rungs and climb back up them” way. It’s overwhelming. And as much as I can look back at the last few years and acknowledge that I’ve worked through a lot of hell and made so much progress, I’m tired now and don’t have the energy to push through what’s in front of me.
As hard as it was to be in a relationship before I started putting focus and energy into healing, it’s even harder now. And possibly more so because I’m dating a person who hasn’t yet begun the process.
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.
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 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.