My boyfriend and I continue to have difficult conversations. I keep doubting I have the energy to keep going, but I keep pushing through.
We don’t have anything to hide behind. We don’t have money and job security, we don’t have a lot of time together, we don’t have a long history of trust and connection, we don’t even have a certain belief that we belong together. It’s fucking hard.
Because we don’t have anything to hide behind, and because we’re both sticking with the difficult conversations long enough to get past the darts and jabs, we’re starting to get honest. The kind of honest where you face shame and admit you’ve been hiding things because you’re not sure they’ll like you anymore if they know. The kind of honest where you say what isn’t ok. The kind of honest where you admit you might be the problem but this little bit is all you know and you haven’t learned enough to figure out the rest yet.
I’m not sure how many people ever get this honest in a relationship, but I don’t think many do it within the first nine months. It takes more courage than I knew I had. And I do it because I believe I matter enough to speak and hear the truth. To not walk away because I’m scared and this is really hard, but because walking away is the right thing for me. And I don’t know that yet because I don’t have enough information.
And there’s no backing down now, because we’re here, rumbling with the truth no matter how scary or how hard. AND IT’S HARD. I’m still not in neutral, and I’m not comfortable with some of the surprises I’m getting. I’m constantly in high threat mode and no one else is bringing me back down to my version of calm. While I’m rumbling with a really painful series of realizations about who I am and how I got here.
But worth it, because I’m worth it. And so is he.
I stayed in bed the first half of the day. My brain is doing a lot of processing and bed is comfortable.
My brain is supposed to be healing, right? That’s the point of therapy and going off the meds, right?
I had an epic PTSD episode last night. It was a panic attack, but different than usual. I don’t recall ever having a headache after. I don’t recall being dizzy and feeling like anything but laying in bed was too hard before. I was starving once I started to calm down, but food was downstairs and that seemed hard too. I did eventually stumble down and shove some grated cheese and chips in my mouth. I didn’t even care, I just had to eat.
I’m recovering today, but still put in almost a full day of work, cleaned the house and got groceries. Yes, that was my recovery day while I was still a little slow and upset.
Because dammit, this is not going to beat me.
And trying to recover.
I spent the end of the week/early weekend in meetings, but a very generous friend let me crash her cottage, so other than feed myself and show up on time, I had no responsibilities. It was glorious. There was a lot of wine. And it was enough of a quiet space that by Sunday I was back in the middle of digging through the piles of trauma I haven’t yet sorted out.
I disassociate. I don’t get my heart involved but hide behind going through the motions. I fear something as yet unnamed.
The insight from my therapist this morning hit me hard. It was rough to hear what she had to say. I cried a lot. Lately I cry a lot in therapy. But beneath the tears I was happy, because hard as it is, this is what I want. I want to heal, even if it hurts.
It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I cannot be here one more second without my skin crawling, an overwhelming desire to cry and severe anxiety that is killing my productivity.
My therapist introduced me to a new thing yesterday, which is Compassion Burnout. I apparently passed fatigue a month and a half ago, but since I kept having to skip therapy, it didn’t really come up and I went straight to burnout.
Some self-care would have helped not to pass fatigue, but…that didn’t happen.
The application to me is that I can’t really care for my grandma (or any other family member for that matter) in a way that I enjoy in any form because I have cared so intensely for so long (and through so much crisis) that I actually just can’t.
The solution is to completely remove myself for a while.
That urge I have to run away back to the desert for a month? I’m supposed to listen to that. I’m supposed to run away. Because if I don’t, I can’t get back to compassion.
I’m only here two days this week (30 more hours), so it’s less, and slightly less anxiety and skin crawling, but not much. Today I was reduced to zero ability to multitask (I can’t tell you the discussion I had on the phone because I was looking at my laptop screen and couldn’t hear and see at the same time), and I am crawling through the things I want to get done today, because while I am somewhat incapacitated by anxiety, I am so determined to get these things done. So determined. But burned out. And faking my way through compassion while trying to stay calm.
I’ve made it to therapy maybe 3 times in the last two months. Before that I was thinking it might be time to stop therapy. Well, it’s not.
This morning I had to face unprocessed grief, missing out on triumph, losing opportunities, being financially stressed because I’ve put time into my family instead of my work, and not mattering enough to that same family for them to take the severity of my mental illness seriously.
I cried a lot, I kept crying when I left, I cried to my boyfriend when I got home, then I took a long nap.
I used to go home and sleep after therapy when I first started going, because it was so intense and exhausting. Today was like that.
On the up side, it was enough for my mom to see that I’m about to be the next family crisis. Nothing is changing overnight, and I don’t expect it to, but she’s committed to finding a different option for grandma that doesn’t require my involvement.
I need time and space to finish grieving so I can heal. I need time to practice healthy behaviors. I really need less cortisol so I can finally lose the trauma weight and hopefully some of the anxiety.
But hanging in there in the meantime is hard, y’all.
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.