Whirling Through the Week – Until I Hit a Wall

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable.

I had a lot going on this week.

I had some kind of idea that work would slowly pick up over the month and I could adjust. Nope, things blew up this week and I’ve been scrambling to do it all. Plus I had to be “public me” a lot, and spent a lot of time managing conflicts, in conferences and meetings and taking on more work. Not surprisingly, I hit a wall this afternoon and started to slide into a panic attack.

I have been doing a lot to recognize and address past trauma, which I am increasingly aware was in great part due to abusive communication, and when I have already hit my stress limit I have a really hard time not taking everything the wrong way.

Basically, if I start saying I’m tired, there is a meltdown on the way.

I realized today that I have a tendency to recoil in preparation for a verbal beating when I start toward a panic attack. I start making plans to isolate, I use any and every excuse for why I must not bother someone and I make a really big deal out of something that hasn’t even happened. My brain, in the process of wrecking, ties communication to abuse and prepares me for it by telling me to shut down and shut out.

This is without there being any verbal beating or any communication abuse. Or any abuse. Or…anything.

Sometimes dealing with this shit is really weird.

It’s a little terrifying too. I was in the middle of talking to a client, changing a drawing and trying to tell David what was happening so that I could hopefully stop the process of making problems where there weren’t any. He reminded me to breathe, and that helped for a few hours, but now I’m back in a similar place, where I’m making a lot of assumptions and creating problems that aren’t there. I’m glad I’m starting to recognize what’s happening, but dealing with it while I’m also exhausted and have hit my stress limit for the week is challenging.

I did a couple of yoga classes when I finished work to try to continue the process of calming. They were more meditative than active, and I found the word vulnerable coming up repeatedly as I stilled my body and slowed my breathing. As in be vulnerable.

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable. I want to put up my defenses and not have to challenge myself and my thinking and repeat to myself that I am experiencing cognitive distortion and that things are not what I am making them out to be. I would way rather tuck in and take a Xanax than sit in pain and stop the negative, destructive thought patterns that I lived with for a few years.

I’m done waiting for a better time to deal with this. There isn’t a time that I will be less busy, will be in a better place, will have less on my plate, will have my shit together or will be more ready for a relationship. I can’t put my life on hold because this shit is hard, and I have so much opening up to me. I think that was the message in yoga. When the choice is before me, and the choice is hard, time to choose vulnerable.

Restoring Through Energy Balance

After months in an anxiety hole, this feels so good.

I was on high speed New Year’s Day.

I went to bed NYE finishing off a bottle of Proseco and a grilled cheese sandwich, I woke up feeling a bit hungover and chugged a quart of water while I scrolled around on my phone. My usual Earl Grey with half and half later and I was full of energy and purpose.

I can’t even remember the last time I had energy and purpose.

Either the Proseco had some magic in it, or all of the work, the thought and the decisions I had been making over the previous week converged into some amazing results. I’m also nearly two weeks into tapering off the antidepressant, and I am finding that my energy, creativity and motivation are WAY UP. I had no idea. Anxiety is also up, but I am recognizing and addressing it in ways that I have not been motivated to do before now.

Cool, right?

It was too cold out for this kid (I am a hot weather girl), and as much as I had the energy to go run around outside, I decided to channel that energy into inside stuff. Into clearing some of my spaces, making small changes that made me a little happier, following through on the meditation intention I had to release hatefulness, which you can read on my post Restoring Through Releasing Others’ Hatefulness, pulling out my little notebook to start writing down thoughts and experiences, and generally doing things that made me happier and feel more accomplished.

After months in an anxiety hole, this feels so good.

Before I started paying more attention to caring for myself, I would have run around on high speed all day, done all the things, worked myself up and crashed in the evening with a panic attack. Now that I’m beginning to understand the concept of balance a bit better, I worked at the things I wanted to do until I reached a point of satisfaction, then I stopped, sat down and read for a bit. I moved from high energy to low intentionally so that I didn’t crash later. Enough was good enough. Maybe sometimes balance is also stopping to appreciate your hard work. I like this so much better.

Me Too

The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too.

One day away from my second trauma anniversary of the week (both 4 years ago), my resting heart rate is back down to where I’d like it to be, I’m still losing weight a bit at a time, my hormones seem to be more balanced for the first time in about 5 months and I was able to say without hesitation yesterday, “We don’t blame victims.”

Praise God.

With the number of celebrities stepping forward to say that they have experienced sexual harassment and assault, including rape, with the national conversation opening up about longstanding acceptance, even expectation of this behavior, and the long silence of victims who were afraid to lose their jobs, their credibility or more…Me too.

My hope is that light will be shed on the issue as well as on the perpetrators of sexual violence. This is something that lives in darkness and secrecy, and dies in the light. I also hope that we support those who choose to speak about their experiences, and we support those who do not. I’m one that doesn’t care to talk about it, but I think it’s important to say “Me too”. I experienced years of harassment and assault – I was groped and grabbed and propositioned by men who acted like they had a right to me. Like so many other women I didn’t make a big deal out of it, smiled, stepped aside, and learned to avoid them. I’m thankful my experiences weren’t violent, but that’s another thing I hope people come to realize. Harassment and assault aren’t always violent. They aren’t always blatant or loud, they are very often manipulative, and they are designed to maximize blame and shame for the victim. The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too. I get it. I’ve been there. I don’t have to be there any more, again, Praise God.

For those of us – women and men – who have felt like we had to stay in the shadows, not take the risk, not lose our jobs, not lose our credibility, not lose whatever else we have at stake…I hope the current conversations about non-consensual sexual interactions provide you the opportunity to heal, to feel recognized and heard whether you choose to speak or not. I hope you get to see that blame and shame are not for you, they are for the people who perpetrated this. And if you are ready to share, I hope you have a safe space to do it. For me, it’s enough to say “Me Too”.

 

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.

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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