You know the when you’ve been struggling with situations that you don’t really understand and are frustrated that the outcomes not only don’t match your expectations but you can’t really connect to the issue? Just me?
This week it’s been fear. The underlying issue in so many of the situations I’ve struggled through is fear. And I don’t immediately recognize it because I’m not connected to my center. I’m stressed, overwhelmed and straying from being present, so I can’t see it. Until I step away from the chaos, get a good sleep, take my time to wake up and…ah. There it is.
Usually it’s me that’s fearful. This time it’s fear in others that I want to tackle head-on. I want them to be aware, to see it and to give it a name. And at some point it will come back to me, because choices will be made that will push me to choose, and fear will undoubtedly be part of the equation. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m not enough? What will I do next? What if I get hurt? What if it gets worse?
I have stayed stuck by fear for a long time. As I push my way out of it and work to open up my life and myself to a way of living that isn’t based in fear, I’m learning how often fear is at the root of an issue, and trying to be aware so I can give it a name and release it.
I don’t often have nightmares. I don’t recall ever having a triggering nightmare, although I don’t tend to retain memories of triggers so I may have just forgotten. That all changed the other night when I started awake at 3:30 in absolute terror. I had been dreaming that I was riding home with my mom and instead of turning left onto our street, she turned right and we were facing the street dead ending into a cornfield. Sirens were suddenly blaring, lights were flashing red, it was the end of the world, people were starting to appear, screaming, the car hit something, she was dead and I was crumpled in the passenger floor board.
It took over an hour for me to calm down enough to go back to sleep.
I rarely have literal dreams. I don’t remember having dreams that resemble flashbacks. I don’t have flashbacks. It was so literal, and so related to the car wreck that broke my brain. It was horrible and terrifying and shocking after I’ve worked so hard at recovery and have experienced something like that so seldom, especially after the 5 years it’s been.
I wrecked in early October. We’re approaching that time, and I don’t want to make a deal of it. One year, maybe year 3, it didn’t bother me and I seem to remember sailing through like it was past. That doesn’t seem to be true, and I think part of the difficulty I’m having now is related to an approaching trauma anniversary. Maybe because I’ve dragged so much up to deal with? Maybe because I’ve dug so deep? That answer feels like the right one, much as I hate it. I hear the body keeps score, after all. And I still need to read that book.
You know when you have really good intentions and then a thunderstorm hits and you get jarred out of your meditative state and that’s the end of that for the day?
I finally felt so blocked by anxiety that I knew I had to do something about it, so I got comfortable and start to reprocess my thinking and my experience. It was nice at first to have the rain as a background (we’ve gotten a lot of rain lately), but after a few minutes of mental progress, lightning hit close to my house and startled me out of my calm. I don’t have a gunshot trigger, but I do startle easily at sudden noise and movement, so that was the end of my meditative calm. Damn.
But, after more sleep I’m a little better today, more calm and focused and more open to leaving the house and being in public while wearing actual clothes and not anything that makes me feel as invisible or unattractive as possible. My weight has inched back up slightly (those extra calories I was unconsciously sneaking in), but today it isn’t an issue for me to stick to the calorie plan and accept that the extra weight no longer serves me or the life that I want to be living.
Healing from PTSD is not easy, and it’s not a linear process. I would prefer it were, because it’s hard to be making progress and have a setback. It’s like tripping and going face first on the ground when you’re walking and starting to think about speeding up.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety this week. I’ve made so much progress in managing anxiety that I’d forgotten how bad it can be and how exhausting. My therapist checked with me on Monday if I’m still using Xanax? I haven’t touched it this year. But this week I could have, I had such a hard time managing it.
I wiped out today. I slept late, went to see a movie with my mom, got super car sick/ low blood sugar sick on the way home, ate something and went to bed.
Have I mentioned how much I hate keto? My body does not like low carb.
I watched TV for a bit then napped for a few hours until a call woke me up. I ate dinner, then went back to bed, still wiped out. I felt every bit of mentally ill that I am.
I took it for what it was, a reminder to slow down and let my body catch up. A chance to practice self care. A lesson in the benefits of mindfulness and putting myself first. Loving myself and showing myself compassion. New and good things.
At some point I got the message that I needed to make due with what I have. While that’s been generally good for my financial position, it’s also been a massive inconvenience.
So I bought myself a bedside lamp. Because I haven’t had one in years, even though that meant getting up to turn off my being light every time I went to bed. It’s operated by touch and small and cool and I really like it and the lighting makes a huge difference as I’m winding down for sleep. Glad I decided my comfort is worth it!
Things aren’t so hard. Still hard, yes, but not so hard. Positive change doesn’t seem impossible. Challenges don’t seem insurmountable. Calm and focus are not longer out of my reach. Yoga is not too difficult for me to enjoy. Prioritizing a balanced diet, sleep and rest is not making me miserable, behind with work or friendless. I am not alienating people by asking for what I need. I am not crippled by being honest with myself on the habits I need to change.
Things are better, I am healing and I am grateful.
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.