100 Days of Healing – Day 49

I’m a survivor of an abusive relationship. One that continued far too long. Once my boundaries were trampled, I didn’t know how to reset them. When I tried to, I got more abuse. Once I got free, it was almost four years before I started dating again, and only then very cautiously.

My boyfriend has now twice not followed through on something important he said he would do. The first time wasn’t a big deal, didn’t really bother me and there seemed to be plenty of legitimate reasons for it. This time there wasn’t, and not only did he not honor his commitment to me, he did the opposite. It broke trust, and presented as a continuation of a pattern I am starting to see that I don’t like and that sends a message that I am not valued.

People start to show who they are after 9 months, and I’m seeing that now.

I expressed how I felt and held him accountable, and he blew up. It wasn’t the same abusive language that I’ve experienced before, but it still came across with the same force as if he’d struck me. I was honest and expressed how specific behaviors had caused me hurt, and he responded that my timing was terrible and interfering with what he is doing. When I said I was sorry, his response was, “Doubt that”.

I think I’ve heard enough, and I’m just grateful that this time I know when to leave.

100 Days of Healing – Day 28

I got punched in the brain by my own brain last night. Shit.

One texted sentence that was completely innocuous lined up trauma after trauma after trauma in my brain, then jetted straight down that neuron path and off the rails. It was one of the fastest trigger-to-panic attack experiences I’ve ever had, and wow does the mind work fast.

I was at the start of flossing and brushing my teeth when it happened, so I kept on with that, and it kept me steady enough that when I finished I started to slowly climb through the wreckage to try to figure out what had just happened. I decided that was a great time to quit the day and go to bed, still carefully stepping through what could have done that.

Ah. That word, that experience, that feeling, what I’ve been concerned about for the last few weeks…and my brain connected them all and clubbed itself with it. Shit.

I woke up early because of my neighbor’s diesel truck, and had a lot of anxiety as soon as I woke up. I never like that, and usually try to go back to sleep to see if I calm down. I didn’t. I dreamt that I got a text message from a stranger, and because I opened it he was able to hack my phone, then my computer, so I was trying to work on my computer but realized I was being hacked and I couldn’t stop it and I didn’t want him to have what was on my computer but was still getting text messages that my phone wouldn’t let me delete or block. I got to the point that I knew I needed to wake up to get out of the dream, but when I started waking up I experienced sleep paralysis and I left my body for a few moments.

I’ve heard of trauma survivors feeling as though they experienced things from outside their body or being paralyzed, but I haven’t experienced those things myself until this morning. I didn’t like it, I had really high anxiety, and I went right back to sleep because I just couldn’t deal.

I’m cognitively pretty slow today. I was waking up when my boyfriend called, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting what tumbled out of my mouth. I mean, who would? It was enough to make me get up and eat breakfast, and I’ve decided to stick with the easier side of what I need to get done today. I have a project my mom needs me to do for my grandma and I’m supposed to be at a bridal shower this evening with a gift and recipe in hand. I can do that. I think. Maybe.

I don’t feel like this was a setback, just a big bump that maybe blew a tire? It was a lot to handle, but I’m glad that I have been able to bring myself back to center while being forgiving toward myself about what I can and cannot do today.

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.

A New Reason to Practice Yoga

As I listened to Chapter 3 of Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide I noticed I was experiencing some of the trauma symptoms the narrator was describing. I was tensing up, getting a headache and tightening inward, as if to curl into a ball and protect myself. I was aware I was doing this (mindfulness practice seems to be showing some results!) and unclenched my jaw and rolled my shoulders a bit.

I’ve noticed also during yoga, which I’m practicing more regularly again, that I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my shoulders. There are positions that are really challenging for me, like making a bridge with my fingers pointed toward my feet or clasping my hands behind my back and straightening my arms. I didn’t remember that being the case previously, but a lot of times I blame weight gain for my yoga practice challenges.

Oh…wait…trauma response…tight shoulders…

I’m not sure if it’s more freeing or discouraging to realize that my lack of flexibility and range of motion is due more to trauma than my fat rolls, but it does provide a path forward, and a solution – more yoga!

Leaning Into Healing

I started listening to Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide while I walked yesterday. After I did yoga. So there I am doing yoga, exercising, not making excuses and working on my brain.

That shit was hard.

The book was good for me from the start. I’m only to the second chapter, but the first chapter started with “Shit happens.”, and I knew I had found a resource that would help me.

As much as it’s helping, as much as I am already learning and recognizing and feel grateful, it is really hard for me to listen to. Not because she recounts trauma stories, she’s careful not to do that because she understands getting triggered isn’t helpful. It’s hard for me to listen to because I am having to face my own experience head-on. I am having to process what happened as I hear the narrator talk about how our brains and bodies respond when we experience trauma. It’s so empowering to have this information. And so painful.

It was tempting several times to cut the book off and switch over to music for the rest of my walk. And I can certainly do that – she even talks about how to read or listen to the book if you are a trauma survivor in a way that is accessible for you. But for me it’s time to start leaning into it. Time to allow the pain to process, even if it’s hard. And it is.