Friends of mine got engaged last night. She’s a trauma survivor with PTSD, and has struggled to accept that he accepts her. I’m thrilled for them, and reminded of what my life isn’t.
And also what it is.
It’s not someone else’s story.
I live firmly rooted in a reality that rarely remains centered on what I want, and often veers so far toward responsibilities, obligations and support for others that I often wonder if I’ll find my way back to myself. I do, because my roots run deep in the center, and as much as I get knocked sideways, I can pull myself back.
Again. And again. And again.
I get stretched a lot.
Where I grew up, we used controlled burns to manage land. Generations ago the landscape was much more open, and drought and lightning strikes did naturally what we do now with flamethrowers and fuel.
The fires have a purpose. They clear out brush and make way for new growth. They remove choking weeds and leave the larger trees to thrive with less competition for water.
Before anything was built or permanent, fire could sweep across the land in a natural cycle of burn and regrow. Once ranchers moved in, the need to stop fire became critical to protect what they’d built. The beneficial fires became destructive to the new elements of the landscape, but were still needed for ecological health.
Wildfires were considered bad for a few generations, until we understood how necessary they are. We now use controlled burns to have the benefit without the total destruction. You have to monitor conditions, play it smart and be prepared for things to go horribly wrong. And a lot of the time you pray.
It’s not a bad analogy for where I’ve found myself. Had I let a few things burn, I might not have had so much catch fire outside my control. Had I prepared, I might not have had to scramble so hard to try to get things under control. Clearing out needed to happen one way or another, I just got the wildfire instead of the controlled burn.
New growth comes regardless.
I know I have a specific set of limits. If I don’t eat, my blood sugar drops and I get pissed at everything. If I don’t stay hydrated it’s a similar experience. If I don’t stay hydrated and I’m out in the sun I’m likely to vomit or pass out.
Drink water. Eat. It’s that simple.
So simple I forgot, so when all I had all day was coffee and beer and eventually some fried fast food garbage, I hit PTSD panic hard. Everything was bad, I couldn’t communicate, couldn’t figure out what I needed and couldn’t hit the pause button to stop and sort it out.
And I was pretty sure none of it was my fault.
Somewhere in the back of my head I’m probably resentful that I need that much effort to not go to pieces. I was busy and had a packed travel schedule, and didn’t want to take the time to do what I needed. Well, that’s going to have to stop.
I almost did it again this morning by not eating breakfast till 11 and then…
Drink water. Eat. No meltdown (at least not today).
I’ve been feeling change the last month or so, like it’s time to move into a new phase of recovery. Once upon a time I think I might have been who I was meant to be. I’m starting to feel like I’m there again. This there is different from that there, but I’m there, and I don’t want to be stuck in a place of not-fully-realized me.
I’m working out what it is that I want, what I can live with, what I can live for, how much capacity I really have and just how much I’m willing to let go.
If I ignore much of what my therapist says about how to put myself first, if I go my own way about this, if I stop fighting, if I move to a state of free – flow giving… What happens?
If I open my hands and let go, if I let what returns to me stay, if I don’t hold on but hold out a hand… What happens?
If I stopped worrying about how you feel or don’t feel about me and be who I am regardless, what happens?
If I stop worrying about whether I have enough to give and just give what’s there, what happens?
I don’t want to hold the negativity that surrounds me. I’d rather let it flow in and back out because it doesn’t have a place with me. I’d rather have so much outflow that it can’t flow in. I’d rather trust that God provides and that’s enough, one less thing to concern myself with and one more thing to observe with gratitude.
A word has stayed with me over the last year as I’ve endured one trial after another. Not one I chose or a “word of the year”, rather one that came to me, that I’ve grappled with, that expresses the complexity of my experience.
It is used in different ways in English. It means a few things to me.
First it was that I’d had enough. How much could a person endure? I’ve since learned not to ask that question. Then I wondered if I could do enough, if I had the capacity to do what was required of me. I’ve struggled with believing I am enough, that what I offer and what I can do is sufficient.
There aren’t many aspects of “enough” I haven’t contemplated, worked through, worked around and sought to understand. I’ve looked at the concept expressed in Scripture, linking the idea of fullness and completion to the concept of “enough”. It’s notably part of Jesus’s teaching on forgiveness – how many times do you forgive? Essentially, “enough”. He said 70 x 7, but those words were symbolic, not a literal 490.
I’ve been so challenged by this word. But I think the challenge is past and the practice is present. To live with “enough”, peacefully.
I’ve had enough.
I have enough.
I am enough.