100 Days of Healing – Day 20

I bought clothes that fit.

That is a huge statement about acceptance for me. For whatever reason I have been trapped by the size of the clothes I used to wear. I don’t want to buy new clothes, so I have a fairly limited wardrobe at present of clothes that will stretch to accommodate my weight gain. I also don’t want to buy new clothes because I’m an inch away from shopping at plus size stores, and I have not been able to accept that about myself.

I’m heading off to the desert to try to get my nervous system regulated and to begin practicing a more caring lifestyle toward myself. I need a break from my normal routine and I need space to think. As I was planning my retreat, an email popped up about REI’s summer sale. I have been needing a sports bra that is not like wiggling into a straight jacket, so I had a look and found two things that I’ve been wanting, a new bra and a sun protective shirt for hot weather. Both great for this trip, both on serious sale, both…

…in my size.

My actual size. Not my old size, not the size I wish for, but my actual size. I checked the measurement charts to be sure, thought briefly about ordering a size smaller, then got honest with myself and ordered my actual size.

The items arrived in the mail today (early!), and they fitIt was so nice to have clothes that fit. The size labels suddenly didn’t matter, what mattered was that I was comfortable, confident and excited that I had successfully ordered clothes online. And I am going to enjoy the heck outta that bra and shirt because they represent healing, growth and positive change for me.

100 Days of Healing – Day 6

I slept hard and dreamt again. While I don’t remember much of the dream, I knew very shortly after I woke up what it was about. I was processing having a hidden illness.

I don’t know if it’s because I could realize it or because it was processed, but I don’t feel hung up on having an invisible illness anymore. It doesn’t feel like a burden or weight to have experiences that no one else can see. I don’t feel a need to run around shouting about being broken by trauma, but I also don’t feel my usual aversion to humans in the context of debating whether to hide or reveal my struggles. I simply feel neutral on the topic, and that whatever I choose to hide or reveal is exactly that – my choice.

I’ve made a few steps forward in being regulated – I brushed my teeth and went to bed on time last night. The next step for me is beginning to journal.

I had a post-trauma ritual of recording re-traumatizing experiences as a sort of recorded narrative that served to reinforce the trauma rather than release it. For that reason I have a negative association with journaling. When my therapist suggested I try it, I was not interested until she pointed out that may be something I take back – reclaim as a beneficial thing instead of a negative. I think it’ll help me to sort out the dreams, the slowness and the feeling that only my lowest level cognitive abilities are functioning.

And I am not going to go buy a new journal and go through some ritual of needing a new book and a new pen and nice writing and whatever. I am using the small, blank book the stalker gave me the day I met him in Paris. That day and what happened after made my experience of enjoying myself and attracting energy a liability, and I have not been that person – A PERSON I ENJOYED IMMENSELY – since. Maybe this will help reclaim that too.

100 Days of Healing – Day 5

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.

100 Days of Healing

I’ve leaned into healing this week. I’m still listening to Healing From Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide, and I’ve had to face up to my post-experience and the symptoms that are and aren’t going away. I’ve found that I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck – enough to limit my range of motion. I’ve had a couple of mild headaches. I hurt everywhere at times. I have muscle spasms at times. I have intense and lengthy dreams every night, and yesterday woke up with only survival brain functioning and not much else.

I went for walks anyway. I listened to the book anyway. I did yoga anyway. I slowly stepped forward with work anyway. I ate nutritious food anyway. I ignored all social obligations that were just obligations and not things I truly wanted to do. I handled some banking and finance transactions that needed to happen, I made the beginnings of a plan to run my company solo (my business partner has abandoned me but still has to be officially terminated from the business and we have yet to discuss any of it because he bailed out and has not bothered to communicate). I also made a backup plan for work in case that doesn’t work out.

I’m going to heal anyway.

I haven’t been intentional about it until now. I’m waking up to how often I disassociate, how much memory I don’t have because I wasn’t present, how numb I am, how overwhelmed I am, how often I am in survival mode. I’m still surviving, not living, and I am now starting to understand why.

THIS IS HARD. I’m going to do it anyway.

The next 100 days will end sometime near the end of September, close to the 5-year mark of the week of trauma that nearly took me down. And for the next 100 days, I’m going to be intentional about healing and see where I get.

Wear the Bikini

“Body be bangin'” is not a phrase I’d use to describe myself. The trauma weight gain, the lack of exercise, the uneven tan lines that are definitely not from trying to tan, the cellulite, the glow in the dark pale of some of me…I’m not bikini ready.

My therapist’s blunt but change-provoking comment a few weeks ago that I don’t love myself has now manifested in me changing my attitude about that bikini. I date a guy who loves the water, and summer is here, therefore we need to be in the water. He enjoys the water so much that he can’t keep it to himself, I need to enjoy it too, not sit on a rock on the side of the river or the side of the pool or on the boat dock – or anywhere that lets me stay in the relative safety and comfort of a cover up.

I haven’t bought a new swimsuit in…maybe 7 years? So mine is losing its elasticity, I realized, even though the material has held its color, and it was and still looks like an expensive, cute bikini. The stretching has kept up with my stretching, so it still fits somehow and it will work fine until I can find another one.

Side note: to fit my boobs in swimwear, it’s a trip to a high end retailer or two or ten, and I don’t trust shopping online. And while a lot of stores are carrying styles and sizes that are much improved for curvier women, it is hard enough to find a bra, much less a swimsuit, that will work for my body, so finding a new one is (was?) way low on my list of priorities until the one I have comes to pieces.

So here I am not confident in my body, knowing I’ll spend the summer around people who are much more cute and slender and fit than I, being expected to join in the water-based fun and do so in swimwear. And I’m facing this right as I’m informed that I don’t love myself.

I did one of the bravest things I’ve done in a long time. I said to hell with it, I’m not going to feel bad about myself, I’m going to enjoy the opportunity to get outside and have fun with people I like hanging out with and I’m going to let my boyfriend push me out of my comfort zone, which he also seems to really like doing. So I dropped the cover up on the table by the pool last week and on the table on the boat dock yesterday, and stood there like I had every reason in the world to feel good about myself. And I did feel good about myself, for the first time since probably the first year I owned that bikini. And I feel better about myself today, having done that.

Obtrusive Grief

My experience with PTSD has included a lot of grief, which tends to be delayed in presenting itself for processing. If I’m stressed (most of the time), if I don’t feel safe (a lot of the time) or if I feel like I have to have my performance face on (also most of the time), my ability to grieve trauma isn’t there… until it is. Usually when I have other things to do, or find it inconvenient to have a tear – streaked face.

I had the weekend off. Actually off, as in no working and no grandma. I hiked, I napped, I went to church for the first time in a while, I slept… all supposedly restorative or restful things. So I was annoyed by increasingly severe anxiety this afternoon. I woke up with anxiety, it ramped up through the morning and after a four hour nap I couldn’t even make myself go to the store for some aloe gel for my sunburned shoulders.

I thought it was because I had to be back at grandma’s tonight, and I’m almost at my limit of being able to be pleasant while dealing with her situation. I get treated like a custodial parent, with a lot more worrying and nagging about how much money my family is spending (which, thankfully, we can afford, but she cannot, and she will not let up about it).

Grief hit me hard, and suddenly. I realized I was grieving for the relationship I lost when my forever turned abusive. The fingers my brother lost in an accident. I don’t even know what else… maybe the part of my brain I lost from the car wreck? I couldn’t stop crying.

And when I needed to sit with the grief and cry it out, I had to get in my car and get back to grandma’s for my shift, which has no space to grieve.

My life, interrupted has pushed off so much of what I need to do to heal, and I’m not that surprised it’s starting to bubble out at inconvenient moments. I wish it were easier to schedule, but trauma processing never is.

Coffee and Beer Aren’t Meals

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).