Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification of all kinds is where we are right now.

I’m a planner. Short term sacrifice for long term gain is my comfort zone, and has been since I can remember. I have to make a concerted effort to live in the moment.

Neither David or I are where we want to be at the moment. There is a lot of hard work and being a public face in front of me for me to have the success I want, and there is a lot of red tape and frustration in front of him. It makes being a couple challenging, because there’s a lot of frustration and anxiety in our individual lives that can seep into our couple life. And if anything, I want he and I to be stable, whether or not our lives are.

I’m leaving town today for a trip I’ve had planned since before I met him. It’s in the middle of him enduring a lot of red tape, and I want to be supportive so it’s not the best time to be disappearing into the desert. But I’m going because this is for me, this trip and the timing have a lot to do with recovering from my past and I’m getting this done for me. All of the red tape he’s pushing through is the same in a different way for him.

Delayed gratification of all kinds is where we are right now. It’s a struggle, to balance what we have to get done, to stay connected, to not aim our anger at each other, to leave and stay and talk and get disrupted and just want to disappear for a bit to somewhere peaceful. I’ve got half a mind to just book a flight to New Zealand and bounce outta here ASAP.

But that struggle, that effort, that gritting teeth and putting head down and working late and standing in line and crossing our fingers that we’ll hit a payoff? I’m not going to discount that or shrug it off. Because we’re doing this – together – after less than three months. The hard stuff? We’re handling it now. And I like to think that means good things for later.

“If We Talk Tonight, Make Me Do Yoga First”

The goal is just to do.

As though anyone can “make” me do anything…ha!

But really, David and I had a long chat yesterday about what I want recovery to look like for me for the next few months. All the running around, all the working, all the public appearances, all the family concerns…when it gets to be too much, it tends to stay too much. Balance…priorities…I don’t really feel like that will ever be a struggle I win.

Necessary struggle though, so last night after I got home from an event I was determined to get a longer yoga session in.

When I was walking and practicing yoga last summer I wasn’t very much smaller than I am now, but at least I had the muscle to engage in the exertion. Now I’m laughing at myself while I follow a Slow Vinyasa video because I can barely hold a position without thinking I’ll crash on my face. It’s also really funny to do yoga when you have a lot of body fat, because the very trim yogi is bending in very cool ways and I am thinking, “um, not sure I can move my fat rolls out of the way enough? Also wow I am not very flexible at the moment…” I mean, is that much downward dog necessary? I am holding up a lot of weight here!

I take it all with a sense of humor because, really, I am so damn proud of myself that I stuck to it. By the end of 45 minutes my down dog form was so much better. Side bends looked like me not really bending, I’m pretty sure, but I listened to the intent and engaged the right muscles and kept my sit bones firmly planted. Not hard when you got a booty, lemme tell you!

The goal is just to do. To do and practice and repeat to the point that my brain learns this is a much better thing to do when I have anxiety. I need to reprogram my defaults, and after the last two weeks of high anxiety, that is more clear than before. It’s a series of waves, and now that I’m in a down wave it’s time to do the good things and practice the good habits so that they’re easier next time. I need a different plan when everything goes sideways.

So I did yoga first, then we talked. Now to work on more sleep…

 

Talking It Out Is A Lot About Listening

Yelling and screaming are easy, but they don’t heal, because they mask what’s underneath.

I’m sitting in my warm house, not obligated to go anywhere today while Iceblast2018 churns outside. Or something. I didn’t get too much precip at my house, so I could probably walk outside without falling on my butt, but I hear it’s bad other places so I’m staying put. Plus I worked my side hustle delivering groceries the past two days, and it’s been intense as people have been stocking up before the forecasted doom arrived. The tips were awesome yesterday, but I didn’t go to bed till well after midnight and I didn’t sleep in.

After my massive trigger episode Sunday night I was not feeling very steady. It’s exhausting to have your brain wreck off into a trauma pit, and even more so to claw your way out. I did though, and I got stable by myself – no Xanax, no relying on someone else to fix it, no blaming anyone else for this (except the guy that did this to me). It’s really tempting to aim this somewhere else, want to be rescued, want to avoid, want to make it someone else’s problem. It’s not though, it’s mine, and I won’t heal if I don’t own this shit and manage it. No one can do that for me.

What David did for me was listen. I got an unusually early text from him yesterday, and since I was still in “everything is a threat” mode I was a little slow to warm up. He had no idea that I had been through a really bad night because one texted sentence was so loaded with trauma for me. I don’t carry a list of sentences and words that trigger me, because I’m not going to live like that. I couldn’t make a list if I wanted to, I have no idea until it happens. And him avoiding my triggers doesn’t help me heal.

What does help me heal is how ready he is to listen when I’m struggling to sort out what’s going on. I work really hard to stay blame neutral when I talk about what I experience, because that’s a fast way to shut down a conversation.  I’m not a surface-dweller, and neither is he. So we talked, and he listened a lot, and didn’t try to tell me what my experience should be.

I rolled into my regularly-scheduled therapy appointment in pajamas and a blanket-like poncho because I had too much else going on to get dressed, and I get to go to therapy in pajamas if I want to. I did want to, and I have a pile of laundry to do before I can leave the house in any semblance of real clothing. I talked about what had happened and what I wanted moving forward, and she was supportive of how I view myself and how I want to navigate what feels like near-constant triggers. My resting heart rate is pretty clear that I have a lot of anxiety right now. It was a really helpful session, because, again, it was about repairing the damage that I have, not trying to push this on to someone else to fix. No one else can fix this.

But someone else can and did talk to me for a long time on the phone, which was reassuring in itself, and brought sexy back to this situation with a “yes ma’am” that just about melted my panties off.

You know how warm fuzzy it is for someone you like to pay attention and remember the things you like and respond to? After working about 8 hours side-hustling, half of it in the rain and cold, I got a recording of “Yes ma’am” in response to something I asked for, and now I can listen to that sexy sound bite any time I want…

Restoring Through Yoga

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.

Anti-Dating

I want more. Dating isn’t more, it’s why I stopped trying that.

My latest PTSD episode was a negative experience for both David and I. You can tell someone what it’s like, you can tell them what to expect, but they don’t understand until they experience it with you. Even then, they only see the outside. It’s worse when they think they’re at fault. This really is just about me and what goes on in my brain. I hate that it can hurt someone I care about… and that there wasn’t much I could do to prepare him. I got blindsided and was scrambling to understand what had triggered me. Not a very helpful place to be when you’re trying to communicate what’s going on. Add Xanax to the mix and I don’t even remember most of what I told him. It was probably better for both of us that we had a Christmas pause. I wanted to make a play on words and say Christmas break, but to his credit we didn’t actually break.

We hiked several miles yesterday in the cold to talk about it, without spending too much time talking about it. I knew it had affected him, I just didn’t know how much. I hate that something I can’t control just brought a really wonderful month to a sharp halt. I hate that I killed the fun. I hate that someone hurt me so badly that I have a negative neurologic response that is so severe it put a relationship I value at risk.

I hate dating. I’m terrible at it. So I asked if we could not date. Anti-date, actually.

Dating doesn’t work for me. I like to do what I like to do while living out what I believe. I like creative energy and being productive and dragging people into my schemes and solving problems and drinking good coffee and walking and talking and eating bagels on Saturdays. Once in a while I like to get hella dressed up and blow money on an amazing dinner. Most of the time I like to cook. I like heavy blankets and BBC Masterpiece and pretending I’m athletic. I like people who see the world differently than I and I like ridiculous high heels. I really like burgers that ooze cheese when you bite into them.

I like all of those things by myself. I think I’d like them even more with another person. I think I’d like them more with this person. I like to share things I enjoy with people I enjoy. “Dating” doesn’t seem to really fit that – or me. I want to live my life and invite someone to join me, not spend my time barely scratching the surface and deciding if we have enough chemistry to try to ignore the problems.

When you’ve been hurt deeply, when you’ve broken deeply and when you’re healing deeply, the surface barely registers. It’s not enough to make me look up from my knitting. I want more. Dating isn’t more, it’s why I stopped trying that.

Then average-height, dark and handsome shows up across the table from me and I think I have to date him because that’s what you do.

Until a scratch on the surface digs up something much deeper, and you have to tell someone they’re free to go for fear of what you might pull them into. I had to be painfully vulnerable to hold my hand open and accept we might not be the best thing for each other. Living with PTSD requires courage, and courage is painful.

I drove home in my three most-feared driving conditions – wet, dark and fast. I was so relaxed I was in shower thinking mode.

THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN. 

It indicated how far I’ve come in processing and putting to rest my car wreck. It’s taken two years, but I was on autopilot and concerned with more pressing issues. I’ve beaten it… So I can beat the next one… the one that’s still blindsiding me with trauma. That’s when I said to hell with it all, I’m doing this the way I want. The only way I know how to not run this relationship into the ground before we have a chance to see if we want this to work.

“Let’s anti-date.”

He said ok.

Bone Deep and Mind Breaking

‘Tis the season for joint pain.

Pain, you make me a believer.

I’m a summer girl, if for no other reason than hot weather doesn’t cause me joint pain. I inherited the family curse of old bones in a young body, and I can sit around with mature members of society and chat aches and pains with the best of them. They never believe someone my age can know how they feel, but since I can predict weather changes based on my elbows and hands and predict the overnight temps based on my knees, they eventually come around to accepting me as one of the wise. Or at least one of the chronically inflamed.

Add the prospect of months of constant deep joint pain to my neurological disorders and you get someone who hates winter. Me.

I finally broke again yesterday. I hit my limit of stress and went over the edge into nausea, dizziness and headache. Am I getting sick? No. I have PTSD, and the stress overload I’ve experienced in the last two weeks sent me over the edge again. The nausea is not completely new, the dizziness was. Thankfully I was able to hold it together to work with a couple of clients, and my mom and my brother kindly drove me where I needed to go. I was not about to drive in that state. Could I? Yes. Was that the best thing for me and everyone else on the road? No.

It would have been better if, when I got off work and got my hair cut, then grabbed some crafting supplies for a project I’m working on for a charitable organization, I had popped a Xanax and gone to bed. Just be done with the day and the stress and sleep it off. But I am so determined to not let the negative part of my brain control my life. So I texted a friend to see if I could catch a ride with her to Bible study and she gracefully didn’t hesitate. That support network? It’s everything on the days I can’t.

I took my knitting because it helps me stay present in group discussions, and knitted my way through tackling Jonathan Edwards’ writings on Charity. It was challenging, and it was good. The woman who hosts us in her home had made a spiced tea and cookies, and she has such a calm, loving presence. Toward the end we shared prayer requests, and I opened up about my struggles, about trying to come to terms with my new normal, that there are always barriers to living the life I want to live, that I have realized I will never be healed and I will live with this for the rest of my time on earth.

I live in pain. Every waking moment is hell because I have no hope that this life will ever be what I want, that what has happened to my brain will subside and I can live free from the demons in my head. I expressed that, and was received with love. One of the women in our group said that what I was saying was exactly her daughter’s experience. I found so much comfort in that, that someone understood. Those that didn’t understand met me with love and compassion.

That moment of vulnerability? It opened up so much love for me. It added women to my circle and to my team in struggling against and with what I’ve been dealt. I have gotten really ignorant responses from church people about my condition and what I do to try to heal. Last night was not that, and I was so comforted.

It is so fucking hard to be vulnerable when the person you were is ripped out of your hands and you’re trying to find your way again. But damn is it sometimes worth it.

And Client’s Brother messaged me all evening, showing a lot more interest than I expected.

When you live with chronic pain it can be hard to be thankful. But today I am so, so thankful.

How Are You? Cranky.

This should all have been done yesterday. Still nothing.

Hello fall, my old nemesis.

Shorter days and cold are not for me. I experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, cold makes my bones hurt deep down, and for the next several months I will have a default of moody and in pain. Winning combination, that.

I appreciate that many people enjoy fall. It’s just not the joyful harbinger of the holidays for me that it seems to be for others. And I think pumpkin spice lattes are gross. Wondering how I have any friends yet? I keep a lot of this to myself.

There is a lot of stress and busyness in my work circles right now. Fall is often a wind down into the holidays, when we start doing the fun community stuff and clients get distracted by life and shopping and apple cider and…whatever. Somehow that is not the case this year. We are really busy, my colleagues are really busy, we are putting out several project proposals for work that will begin before the end of the year and it’s all a bit of a fast balancing act.

Which is why it irritates the hell outta me that my business partner is not just handling things.

I am handling things on my side. We have a lengthy “to-do” list to get through the next three weeks and our big business development event of the year, and we designated responsibilities. None of his are done. Not one.

What I am REALLY struggling with right now is how to address this. It’s not as simple as “get your shit done.” (I know, I know, yes it sounds like it’s that easy but it’s not because of the nature of the work and the differences in our skill sets).

I have gotten us a few new clients (very grateful for every single client who chooses to trust us with their project), we need to get proposals out, I gave the content of the proposals, which means all that is left is to fill in the information in the template and send it out with a nice letter and some backup documents. This should all have been done yesterday. Still nothing. And I am about to blow my top because I am on vacation this weekend and only have so long today to deal with this.

I don’t want to be a jerk. I don’t want to be unaccommodating. I want a long term healthy and positive partnership. Except right now. Right now I want to do it myself after making cutting statements with a few terse words.