I am struggling this week. Losing Josh in the middle of the week that my body remembers as the most traumatic week of my life is just hard. I didn’t prepare for it because my therapist thinks that creating that expectation will make the week inevitably negative, but not preparing for it has just left me unprepared for what I’m experiencing. I worked well past midnight last night and have been busting my ass for the last few weeks. I’m busy with work, yes, but I am also using it to cope, per usual. I didn’t plan to take a day for myself to be still and reflective and work on reprogramming, I was going to travel out of town on an unnecessary work trip just to accommodate someone I have already over accommodated. This was not a good approach for my situation, and now with a funeral tomorrow and my owns needs and experiences not met or addressed, I am struggling to hold it together.
This shit is hard.
It’s likely that by Monday (or even before) I’ll be ok and the moment will have passed and I will have some freedom for a while. That does not help me today. Today my body hurts, I feel compressed and pinned, I want to isolate and disappear and be swallowed up and I am so consumed by stress (not anxiety, strangely) that I cannot let my foot off…
And in writing those last 6 words and reading them on the screen I realized what I am doing. I pushed down on the brake of my car so hard and for so long as I smashed down a highway that my heel was bruised. I tried so hard to stop the crash that could not be stopped that I have stayed that way, foot on the brake, for five years. I am that way now. My body feels like it did while I was bracing myself to die. It hurts.
I don’t know why today. Today isn’t the anniversary, but it’s the date that I’ve had in my head. The 14th will be the 5th anniversary by date, it was on a Monday. Today is the 11th, a Thursday, and it’s in the middle. I had a traumatic breakup (the back story covers four years so just understand that it was a severely traumatic moment) on October 8 or 9 (I can’t even remember things were so blurred at the time) so the 11th is in the middle of the two events that resulted in my PTSD diagnosis. It was too much for me to handle. I had no support. I had no way to talk about it. I just had to keep going. And my body remembers.
But now I know. I don’t quite know what to do about it, but if the first step is to recognize what’s happening and notice how it feels, there are surely more steps to take following that will lead away from what I’m experiencing now so that I don’t have to do it again. I would really like to let my foot off the brake.
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 have been busting my ass at work on several challenging projects, and don’t have resolution on any of them yet. I am waiting on responses, waiting on meetings or not yet able to get to the work due to the slew of things on my plate right now. It’s a lot of uncertainty, and it feels like a lot is on the line.
I have a lot of uncertainty with my company right now because job openings keep coming through my email and I’m just not sure that it’s not better to quit what I’m doing and get paid to show up. Right now I show up and don’t always get paid (there’s a lot of boundary setting to do that hasn’t been done the last two years and I am just now able to see and acknowledge that).
I have a lot of uncertainty with relationships right now. I might have to take a break from therapy (thanks, insurance), my family is still sorting ourselves out after a lot of illness and injury and my experience living with PTSD continues to be challenging and limiting. What I want and what I have to work with aren’t matching up right now, and I haven’t managed to break through the barrier and constraints yet.
I don’t know if you can completely heal from PTSD. I don’t know if I can. I’m certainly making the best effort I can, but since I’m still untangling the bundle of trauma that wrecked my neuron paths after a couple of years in therapy, maybe that’s just not in the cards, and the best I’ll get is fairly successful management of a condition I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
It’s so damn limiting at times.
I’m back to not being able to intentionally exercise because I’m so adverse to it. When my car hydroplaned my heart rate was… high is an understatement… and now if I’m in a heightened alert state, upping my heart rate is a trigger. Makes my fitness goals a challenge. And it’s not always, but it’s frequent, and it takes so much work to get myself calm sometimes that I don’t have any energy left.
Since I’m an introvert and people drain me, going out in public is hard for me. I can (thankfully) do it for work when I need to, but I need recovery time after. It’s pretty limiting.
So I’m not living the life I want, but at the same time I’m living my best life right now. I’m the most wholehearted I’ve ever been, and despite the recent setback, the most healed I’ve been in a long time. I’m slowly adopting and sticking to healthy lifestyle changes that I didn’t think I could do. So at least there’s that.
Screw leg day, don’t skip therapy day.
Still struggling through a relapse and I think I might be triggering myself, but I am still taking small, manageable steps forward in the meantime. I’ve had some bad waves of anxiety and a little bit of flashback, which I very rarely have, and this feels more like what I experienced pre-therapy. Medication is starting to look like a good option.
I know how far I’ve come, and I am still going forward.
I really struggle with fear of what people I care about are doing. Even a little bit of unknown can send my anxiety skyrocketing, and when some of my family or other people close to me are out and about, it can be really challenging for me to stay calm. I like for everyone to be home safe. I like me to be home safe too.
Part of it is I don’t trust them. And I’m not sure why in particular? Because none of them have given me a reason not to trust them. But instead of being happy about what they’re doing or the opportunities they have or going about my own business, I worry endlessly about their well being and safety. It is emotionally exhausting, and not something I even want to do. It’s one of the instances in which a PTSD symptom seems impossible for me to get a handle on or control, and I feel scared and beaten by it. It can really affect my sleep, and certainly affects my ability to be calm.
I don’t go out much at the moment unless it’s necessary because just getting back to full steam with work has been challenging enough. I also like to have a plan, and planning is hard because I only have so much mental energy before I burn out for the week and have to recharge. So I work hard as much as I can, then get to a point in the day (which is earlier in the day as the end of the week nears) that that’s all I can do and I need to rest.
It’s infuriating at times, because I feel stuck this way and don’t yet see a way past it.
I’ve been pushing against the walls of the past that confine me, and I’m disappointed, scared and angry that they exist. It’s like I’m struggling to get out of a cocoon or a restrictive jacket, and I haven’t managed to tear my way out yet.
Apparently, this is called Day/Act/Part 2. It’s the middle.
I’m thankful that Brené Brown went first and did the research and self-application that have given me a path to healing. I’m listening to Rising Strong now, and the timing is good. God-thing good. She describes a curriculum in which participants go through an intensive three-day learning process. Day Two – the middle, the part about vulnerability and blame and shame – sucks. And you can’t skip Day Two.
She connects this to the Hero story. Act two is the part in which the Hero tries every easy way around the problem, only to climax at the realization and engagement with the hard truth that there is only way through. Act Two sucks for the Hero. Act Two sucks for us. I am in Act Two, and it sucks. But I can’t skip it. I can’t ignore or skip or evade the discomfort, the struggle and the frustrating constriction, and I’ve come too far to turn back.
But hey, at least I have a name for it and I’m not the only one.