I went through a process of being intentional about healing for 100 Days straight. It was transformative. I’m not wealthy, popular or traveling the world and living my best life with an Instagram account gaining 100+ followers daily, but I am wiggling out of the cocoon I wrapped myself in following my PTSD diagnosis. I’m fully engaged in work for the first time in a couple of years, and I’m starting to put myself out there. I was just notified that a conference proposal I submitted was accepted. A piece of legislation I wrote will be filed and sponsored. A report I wrote is generating real questions about accountability.
And yet I’m still crashing into bed by 9:30pm, not bothering to brush my teeth or get dressed unless I have to be somewhere, not exercising regularly and not able to put a grocery list together.
I’m listening to audio books to learn more about what I don’t know – how to successfully navigate relationships, my healing brain and being an entrepreneur. I’m reading more about what I don’t know for work – methodologies, law and best practices (and throwing out some of it because my experience tells me it’s not a very sound way to do things, then realizing I have the confidence now to make those calls).
I’m finding myself more attractive.
No really! When I look in the mirror now it’s a much more positive response. I’ve lost 12 lbs but let that stall out for the last couple of weeks before I go back to focusing on where I want to go next.
So the next thing, really, is to decide what’s next. But based on what is best for me, what brings me joy and what makes me excited to get out of bed most mornings, not based on obligations, responsibilities and the belief that I’m not enough. I am. Time to act like it.
I finished keto three days ago, I’ve been eating carbs, and – shocker – I haven’t gained weight.
I am much more conscious about what I eat, how much I eat and why I eat. I’m still watching the calories and not eating large meals. I’m still not eating or drinking much sugar. I still have 30 lbs to go.
I’m still a bit paranoid about binge eating and blowing my progress.
I’m generally paranoid/have severe anxiety about at least one aspect of my life, so I can probably assign paranoia about sabotaging my progress to some persistently fearful corner of my brain that has thus far been resistant to healing. It’s hard, because the more anxiety I have about eating, the more I want to eat, the more of a challenge it is not to eat, the more…
PTSD is hard. But I am going to get through it, one little bit of healing at a time.
I don’t know if you can completely heal from PTSD. I don’t know if I can. I’m certainly making the best effort I can, but since I’m still untangling the bundle of trauma that wrecked my neuron paths after a couple of years in therapy, maybe that’s just not in the cards, and the best I’ll get is fairly successful management of a condition I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
It’s so damn limiting at times.
I’m back to not being able to intentionally exercise because I’m so adverse to it. When my car hydroplaned my heart rate was… high is an understatement… and now if I’m in a heightened alert state, upping my heart rate is a trigger. Makes my fitness goals a challenge. And it’s not always, but it’s frequent, and it takes so much work to get myself calm sometimes that I don’t have any energy left.
Since I’m an introvert and people drain me, going out in public is hard for me. I can (thankfully) do it for work when I need to, but I need recovery time after. It’s pretty limiting.
So I’m not living the life I want, but at the same time I’m living my best life right now. I’m the most wholehearted I’ve ever been, and despite the recent setback, the most healed I’ve been in a long time. I’m slowly adopting and sticking to healthy lifestyle changes that I didn’t think I could do. So at least there’s that.
For the decade or so of my career before I started a company, I worked for companies that had abusive work cultures. I didn’t know it could be different, and I had been raised to not be a problem and not think my needs were important. I had a boss that would goof off all day, then make my work partner and I stay 2-3 hours late so that he felt like he was getting something done. We had already been working all day and had gotten our work done, so we were pretty resentful, and him taking us out to lunch once or twice a month did nothing to make up for his horrible management style and how hard I had to work to cover his mistakes.
I worked for two generations of ownership who all thought that as long as you were on salary you had to work as much as they wanted doing whatever they wanted. It was not out of the norm for me to miss lunch or to do something completely outside my job description, or to work 80-90 hours a week, once for three months straight. I missed holidays that I was owed per my position and HR refused to comp them when I could finally take the time off. My bosses were verbally abusive, more especially when I was trying to keep up out of legal trouble, and I was frequently given 4 hours to do a project that needed (and that most people would take) 2 weeks to do. The day I walked out of there on my own choice was one of the best moments of my life.
When I started a company, I brought all of the bad habits with me. I ignored my needs and a work style that fit me best and accommodated my business partner and my clients, not taking time to manage myself, my company and my work in a healthy and productive way. I felt like I was never doing enough, so I worked on projects and took very little time to work on the company.
That all stopped when I announced I was divorcing my business partner. That all stopped when I finally started doing what is best for me and the work that I love. I started taking more time to work on the company, getting template documents set up, getting my accounts the way they need to be set up and getting all of my files organized and cleaned up. I started putting down work when I was done for the day and not pushing myself to work more because I thought it (and I) wasn’t good enough or hadn’t done enough. I stopped answering my phone on weekends. I stopped saying I could do anything or that my clients could skirt all of the rules they didn’t like. I started building boundaries for the pro bono work I take on. I started setting boundaries for my schedule. I started acknowledging I have needs as a person that need to be met. I started investing in software training so that I can be better at my job.
I started doing my thing for me with my rules and my boundaries. And I’m so proud of myself when I look back at what I’ve overcome.
Two-thirds of the way through a focused effort to heal a lot of the damage wrought on me by PTSD, I’m astounded by how far I’ve progressed in two months. My sleeping and eating habits have improved, my relationships have improved or been released, I’m spending less time trying to control what I can’t, I’m much more aware of when I need to pause and get to a place of calm, I’m more focused, I’m much better at managing triggers and I am getting to the root of a problem more quickly and with less time spinning in anxiety. I have more creativity, more critical thinking, more problem-solving and more willingness to try new things.
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.
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.