I am rarely present these days, but I don’t often catch myself.
You know those really cool, sexy yogi photos of very attractive women in awe-inspiring yoga poses in spectacular locations?
That’s not me.
I started early this year on the recommendation of my therapist. I haven’t done yoga in two months or so until this week, and I can tell. I think I’m less connected to myself and my emotions, I’ve had a little more physical pain than I was when I was practicing yoga for a couple of hours a week, and definitely more tension. I find yoga really helps, and it’s a great time for me to practice focusing.
As I was moving through a half hour video yesterday, I began thinking about what I was going to make for dinner later. I caught myself. I wasn’t present, I wasn’t focused, I wasn’t working on what the yoga session was for, I was thinking about squeezing lemons and what kind of cheese was in my fridge.
I am rarely present these days, but I don’t often catch myself. Yoga is the tool for me to do that, to understand how to observe my mind and my body and begin to make changes based on those observations. If I can be more present, be more observant and make more time for myself (like yoga practice), I can start correcting the thoughts that are contributing to anxiety and sending me in the wrong direction. It’s another way to restore, and another tool I’m more committed to making use of as I go through the next stage of my recovery.
I almost died in a car wreck that happened in the rain. For the most part (and thanks to EMDR and a lot of therapy) I don’t really have problems anymore when I drive. When I do, I have coping skills that work well. So today was a pretty big surprise when I was driving in the rain on my way to a meeting and started having flashbacks, not about my car wreck, but about the day of my brother’s accident. Clear as anything were the memories of getting the call from my mom, picking up his truck, sitting in the ICU waiting room unable to pray and barely able to hold it together, leaning on the prayers and shoulders of friends.
I’ve rarely had flashbacks of my own trauma, much less that of someone else. And while that day was traumatic for me, it hasn’t had nearly the impact that my own trauma has.
As I began to write this post, I also began to ask why and to process what happened this afternoon. I’m dreaming again… I’m processing again… I’m resolving trauma again.
I am done being afraid of the hold the past has on me. I’ve survived this much this long, and I can deal with whatever else boils up. But this was interesting, because as much as the flashback experience while driving on slick roads was not pleasant, it didn’t shake me. I’m now more curious about it, about where it came from and why that day?
I dream when I’m relaxed or when I am processing. Emotions, events – they all get run through my dream cycles in full color and epic drama. I don’t dream the exact thing, I dream versions of it, or nothing at all related. I started dreaming again this week after a long time off. My resting heart rate is slowly dropping, I’m a little more calm during the day and now memories are emerging that probably haven’t been dealt with. The human brain is fascinating.
Am I excited by this? Nope. Am I afraid of it? Also nope. Gonna deal with it and move on…
Sex and dating have been the last big issues I haven’t really dealt with post-PTSD. I didn’t have to, so I didn’t, and figured I’d deal with it when I had to. Well, now I have to if I want this relationship to continue. Which I do, because Client’s Brother is an incredible surprise, and I’d like to see where we go. He knows I still have a lot of shit to work through, and he’s kind and compassionate about it. Since I have a giant question mark about my reactions to everything (post-assault I am pretty skittish about, well, everything), I have no idea what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not. I have so many negative emotions about sex and dating, and changing that is going to take time and energy that I don’t yet have available for this. He’s walking through this with me, and I couldn’t really ask for more. It’s quite wonderful.
As I’m rolling into the end of the work year and things slow down for about a month, I have some space to step away from the office and focus on myself. It’s time I really need to do this, to get ME back. I need to form different coping habits, need to resolve some background noise and pursue some things that bring me joy, things that I haven’t had the energy to pursue. As much as the recovery process is central to my life, I’m ready to move beyond recovery and be more than the anxiety and scars. I think that identity was ok for a while, and I think it gave me a bit of shelter, but I’m more than the scars and want to be more than the anxiety. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t start things on Mondays and I try to avoid high-expectation change scenarios. I’d rather start something on a Tuesday in April. So no end-of-year or new year plans, just seems like the right time to push myself forward a bit and regain some of what I like about myself.