I feel like I’ve hit the floor of whatever hole I’ve been in. Not in a “hit rock bottom” way, more in a “fall through whatever rungs were left and now have to both repair the rungs and climb back up them” way. It’s overwhelming. And as much as I can look back at the last few years and acknowledge that I’ve worked through a lot of hell and made so much progress, I’m tired now and don’t have the energy to push through what’s in front of me.
I’m trying to both do more things that I enjoy and enjoy more things that I do. Yesterday I traveled across the desert, drank a lot of wine, soaked up the landscape and got rained on. There’s something about me and rain in the desert. I was at Uluru in the middle of Australia twelve years ago and it rained on the full day I was out there hiking – so much so that the rock turned to waterfalls and the desert became green. They said it happens once or twice a year. Yesterday wasn’t as dramatic, but the 20 degree drop in temps due to the rain was a nice change.
When I stopped for the night, my mind turned to how unready I am to carry on with the work of life. I’ve been wondering how substantial the changes I need to make in my lifestyle might need to be for me to be whole, for me to step away from frayed nerves and a perpetually high alert nervous system. It’s not a peaceful way to live, and the recovery time from doing that for several years seems…insurmountable.
I’ve walked more than 20 miles this week, most of it in two big hikes that have left my muscles sore and the rest of me really tired. 20 miles in a week is not a lot, and less than when I’m walking in the evenings at home. However, these 20 miles had a lot of uphill or uprock, some downhill so steep I had to go down backwards and temps that sucked the air out of me. All of my wrinkles are showing, because as much as I drink I need MORE WATER, constantly. It’s not a bad mantra, actually. More water.
I went for a really hot three hour walk this morning. After hot rock climbing two days ago my leg muscles are still sore, and my feet hurt from putting nearly 20 miles on them in three days.
I could have been miserable for a good bit of that walk, and the last mile and a half back to the house was scorching. I chose instead to meditate, to be mindful and to embrace the challenge. And the heat.
I have recently become aware of how often I disassociate – I am presently lacking memory of a lot of time. I hurt everywhere. My weight is at its highest ever at 216 lbs. Getting out of bed is unappealing. Vigorous exercise is less appealing. Healing trauma is appealing, but it’s hard and makes me tired. I kind of just want to quit, in a general sense.
I’ve been sleeping this week. I’ve been trying to let my body rest as much as possible. That has meant I am also dreaming vivid dreams every night. I’ve noticed that the last two nights my dreams have shifted from a seemingly random and meandering narrative and wandering around places then waking feeling disturbed to dreaming that I am taking control of and addressing situations I don’t like. Last night, for example, I was eating dinner outside under a large awning and someone was flying a drone right over our heads and up under the awning. It was disturbing and unpleasant, so I reached up and pulled it out of the air, knowing that I could do that with no injury to myself if I caught the part that rests on the ground during takeoff and landing. I shook it to break it out of radio control and tossed it on the ground, to everyone else’s shock.
I like to think it’s a sign that I’m ready to take charge of my life again.
I don’t like myself right now – I don’t like who I’ve become post-trauma. I realized this yesterday evening. Disregard the weight gain – I’m not comfortable in my own skin because I don’t like my skin. I don’t like my limitations, and I am not willing to make peace with something I don’t like. Changing myself will be hard, but this whole effort to heal (and therefore be a person I enjoy being) is hard anyway. I understand that self-judging and criticizing isn’t helpful to me right now, and I don’t think I’m doing that, I think I can just admit that I don’t honestly like ME and want to be someone I do like.
So here’s to the start of 100 Days of seeing where I can go with an intentional effort to heal, with a big curiosity about what I can learn and who I can be.
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.
I’ve been really stressed about work, on top of everything else. I have a few challenging and contentious projects in play, and as much as I’d like to bow out of them, I need the money. I don’t get paid for the 100+ hours a week I spend caring for my grandma, and something has to pay the bills. As much as I’m trapped here, the world revolves on and things cost money.
I had a meeting with a client and a local government representative today to see if I needed to recommend that he pursue litigation. I expected the parties involved to be contentious, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve my client’s best possible outcome.
I’m exhausted, and got about four hours of sleep last night because grandma talked to herself and rustled around so much. I was pretty sure I was going to be worthless and forget my points. Instead, I got a calm and professional meeting with clear information, and I think I’ve convinced my client that his best course of action is to pursue the standard approval process, since it will save him a lot of time, maybe money and definitely grief.
This option keeps me involved in the project, which will still be a challenge but I appreciate the vote of confidence by my client, who asked me to proceed directly with the next phase and send him a bill.
I’m either so relieved the stress has lifted a bit or so exhausted I’ve stopped caring. Hard to tell until I get some sleep, which won’t be tonight.
I had someone in my corner, cheering me on and reminding me that being tired would tell me a lot of things that weren’t true, and that I’m good at this and will perform well regardless.
I’m grateful for the reminder. It was true.