Adulting Hard (And the Bruises to Prove It)

I think I’ve outgrown my life without realizing it, and without the room to move and stretch I’m getting banged up.

If there was a point in my life that Fridays elicited a “Yay! It’s Friday! The weekend!” response, I have forgotten when, and those days are long gone. Weekends are not a break, weekends are a continuation of work, a different set of work, or an endless round of chores and responsibilities. The only thing that distinguishes the weekend for me is that BAGELS happen on Saturday mornings, and traffic downtown isn’t as bad in the morning.

PTSD took away whatever semblance of “fun” I used to be, and there’s not a lot of free-wheeling, spontaneous, free-to-seize-the-day about me. That and my grandma not aging well (lots of things upset her and I’m the one that gets to hear about it), the unending health crises in my immediate family (we are maybe stable again after my brother’s visit to the ER last week for addiction), running a company with a business partner that has no executive function (it all lands on my shoulders) and my efforts toward recovery, which lately have just meant getting triggered a lot and being tired to the point that I hallucinated while driving.

What am I doing wrong? I thought I had this handled?

I have a stack of work on my desk that has approaching deadlines, I don’t have the focus or energy to tackle it head-on, yesterday I had to pivot to finish two courses for my fellowship that I hadn’t realized weren’t done so that pushed other work off a day, I ran a meeting last night that was completely dominated by a woman who has expertise and does know a lot about the topic our committee meets about, but who does not know all of the context and connections to the topic (and I do), so for every point I made that will help expand the breadth and depth of our organization’s position on this topic, she said “No.”

Y’all know the type. She knows everything, and everything she knows is stuck in the past, and not easily communicated to people who are not experts. That’s why I’m the committee chair, I am good at translating and good at connecting, and I hold more experience and more degrees relative to how to manage the process. And I got stepped all over. And it wasn’t going to be any other way without a fight. Cause she says “No.”

I can’t even make anti-dating fun. David has just as much chaos and barriers as I do at the moment, and it’s starting to consume his energy too. My struggles with mental health killed any kind of “honeymoon phase” we might have had, and my continuing series of triggers has not made our relationship less challenging. I can barely function some days as an individual (my therapist has described me as “high-functioning anxiety”, I see it more as “high potential to fail” anxiety), and there has not been a lot of time for me to adjust to functioning as a couple before everything has kind of hit the fan. Yay.

Long story for another time, but I was at Disney World a few years ago having one of the worst moments of my life. I had been obliterated by my ex and the fireworks show was going on and on about your dreams coming true. What a shitty message to the broken person I was. My dreams were destroyed, thanks. Anyone have a flask in this park?

I’m not a fairy tale kind of girl. I don’t dream in sparkles, I don’t wait for a happy ending and I am certainly not going to be rescued from the shit show that is my life right now.

That message wasn’t for me because that message isn’t me. It doesn’t fit. And I think that’s part of what I’m struggling with right now. I don’t fit. I think I’ve outgrown my life without realizing it, and without the room to move and stretch I’m getting banged up. In figuring out who I am and what I want post-trauma (I am a different person, and it’s a good thing), I don’t fit. Anything. So I guess now I get to figure out how to make it fit…

Sick & Cranky

I’m not doing much to promote healing.

I can’t tell if I have allergies or a cold or both. Not the flu, I’ve had that before, but I’m about 2 weeks into not feeling well, and I’m feeling somewhat worse. Congestion, aches, I’m breaking out everywhere, my ears hurt, I cough some parts of the day…ugh.

I have stuff to do! Like a lunch meeting and an increasingly wonderful relationship and family drama and a car to clean out and a side hustle to work and I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS.

Isn’t that how it works though? When does anyone ever have time for this?

If nothing else, whatever has befallen me is serving to remind me that I could improve how I care for myself. That rest day? Hasn’t happened yet (rest days are a mental as well as physical thing for me, and I have to be very intentional about mental rest). I ate processed garbage for dinner yesterday because that’s what was socially acceptable, then I felt horrible (Oreos and chocolate pudding and Cool Whip are delicious, the processed potato salad and cole slaw less so, but it all made my body hate me). I am sleeping a little less than 7 hours a night (I’ve said before, I need about 9).

I’m not doing much to promote healing, at the same time I’m not masking it with over the counter remedies. I am therefore still sick, and very cranky.

And I just wrote out what I need to do so…fine. But if you have any remedies, let me know!

Whirling Through the Week – Until I Hit a Wall

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable.

I had a lot going on this week.

I had some kind of idea that work would slowly pick up over the month and I could adjust. Nope, things blew up this week and I’ve been scrambling to do it all. Plus I had to be “public me” a lot, and spent a lot of time managing conflicts, in conferences and meetings and taking on more work. Not surprisingly, I hit a wall this afternoon and started to slide into a panic attack.

I have been doing a lot to recognize and address past trauma, which I am increasingly aware was in great part due to abusive communication, and when I have already hit my stress limit I have a really hard time not taking everything the wrong way.

Basically, if I start saying I’m tired, there is a meltdown on the way.

I realized today that I have a tendency to recoil in preparation for a verbal beating when I start toward a panic attack. I start making plans to isolate, I use any and every excuse for why I must not bother someone and I make a really big deal out of something that hasn’t even happened. My brain, in the process of wrecking, ties communication to abuse and prepares me for it by telling me to shut down and shut out.

This is without there being any verbal beating or any communication abuse. Or any abuse. Or…anything.

Sometimes dealing with this shit is really weird.

It’s a little terrifying too. I was in the middle of talking to a client, changing a drawing and trying to tell David what was happening so that I could hopefully stop the process of making problems where there weren’t any. He reminded me to breathe, and that helped for a few hours, but now I’m back in a similar place, where I’m making a lot of assumptions and creating problems that aren’t there. I’m glad I’m starting to recognize what’s happening, but dealing with it while I’m also exhausted and have hit my stress limit for the week is challenging.

I did a couple of yoga classes when I finished work to try to continue the process of calming. They were more meditative than active, and I found the word vulnerable coming up repeatedly as I stilled my body and slowed my breathing. As in be vulnerable.

The last thing you want to be when your brain is wrecking on past trauma is vulnerable. I want to put up my defenses and not have to challenge myself and my thinking and repeat to myself that I am experiencing cognitive distortion and that things are not what I am making them out to be. I would way rather tuck in and take a Xanax than sit in pain and stop the negative, destructive thought patterns that I lived with for a few years.

I’m done waiting for a better time to deal with this. There isn’t a time that I will be less busy, will be in a better place, will have less on my plate, will have my shit together or will be more ready for a relationship. I can’t put my life on hold because this shit is hard, and I have so much opening up to me. I think that was the message in yoga. When the choice is before me, and the choice is hard, time to choose vulnerable.

Late Nights & Lots of Crafts

I’m in my natural state – overextended.

I stay in a constant state of overcommitment. I still haven’t learned that I can’t do as much most days, so I do what I want to do, rather than what would be a better balance. I really love to give my time away. ALL OF IT.

I have zero space for dating, because I hadn’t planned on it. Now I’m dating, and it’s making for some late nights on the phone because that’s when we can catch up and focus on each other.

I am working with my lovely if occasionally annoying group of kids to make crafts to sell at my city’s massive Christmas Stroll this coming weekend in support of an orphanage near Monterrey, Mexico. It’s beyond giving to the less fortunate, it’s about providing for the most vulnerable people – impoverished and abused children. We heard about the booth and promptly offered up all of our creativity and spare nights, and we have been busy. It’s a great bonding time, but sitting on a tile floor painting for 3 hours last night is not without its consequences for me this morning as I creak around. My grouchy old bones are not as willing of participants.

This is on top of work, caring for my grandma, running the house, my brother starting to open up to me, various other holiday commitments for care packages and gatherings, my pro bono work, my volunteer work, and at some point starting to make Christmas happen.

Can I not adult today?

But it’s so worth it. Sacrificial giving is such a fulfilling thing. Not the giving from excess, but giving from having little. It’s part of my practice of gratitude, and I have rest planned as soon as I finish my whirlwind of commitments. I will be grateful for that too!

 

I Finally Had an Open Conversation with My Mom

She accepts that I am not ok, and may never be.

My Mom had it hard growing up. I’ll likely never know how hard. She deals with things quietly and doesn’t often show emotion.

I am about as opposite as it gets, with one exception. I can act, and I can make anyone believe anything. Even her.

We had a long talk today. Yesterday I had multiple stressors, and it was all topped off by my notice that my health insurance premiums are increasing AGAIN by 21% while my coverage is decreasing by an average of 27%. Just try to justify the Affordable Care Act to me. I’ll destroy you and your paltry stance.

Yesterday was also the first time that “suicide” crossed my mind. Twice. Because I am tired of fighting a condition I can’t seem to beat. Tired of not feeling like I can achieve anything, that I can’t get ahead, that I can’t live the life I want. I have never been suicidal, and am not suicidal, but that was the first time I’ve had the thought. It scared me, and I prayed hard. I was able to tell Mom that had happened, and she completely accepted it with no judgement, just an offer to always be there if those thoughts happen again.

She acknowledged that what I have is real, that it’s exhausting and that it has changed my life. She thinks it’s ok if I have to tone down some of my ambition, if I push responsibility onto others. She also said that even though she doesn’t understand my work, she knows I’m really good at it. My Mom is one of the most talented and hardest working people I know, and that was a really uplifting compliment.

I’m reminded in this that God provides. He always has for me. He did today too.

Still Recovering from That Last PTSD Throwdown…Oh, and No Stalker for a Month!

2 was enough. 2 wasn’t my steps for the day or my exercise goal or any of that, it was enough for me.

Y’all. That epic face on the floor sob fest is still polluting my brain, making me tired and causing a haze of ugh. The show must go on, however, and I’m a day, a permit application and a set of historic window reproduction drawings plus a snarky response to a City Administrator away from 4 days off. I am so thankful I’ve held it together long enough and strong enough to get this project done on time and to a quality I can take pride in. I’m also thankful that I skipped exercise yesterday and read half a book instead. I did 2 trail miles today and ran about 1/4 of it, which was also an accomplishment, because I don’t run.

I stopped at 2 miles. That was huge.

2 was enough. 2 wasn’t my steps for the day or my exercise goal or any of that, it was enough for me. It was enough for me to run errands, take care of paperwork, stop for a trail run and go just far enough but not so far that I wore myself out. I’m like a kid that once too tired loses their shit and has a meltdown. So I stopped. Go me, because I am not really one to stop. I keep going until I hurt. Or my brain breaks.

In better news, it’s been a month since I ditched my cyber stalker (Stalked – Get Off My Cyber Ankles) and he hasn’t found me. He does check my work social media, but he can’t comment, and I don’t have a direct view of his stalking. It’s awesome. I had no idea how much that was weighing on me, but my resting heart rate is down 4 bpm from a month ago, and that has been one of my goals – get anxiety down enough while I sleep that I don’t look like I’m about to stroke out. Exercise, firm decisions, lots of water and more sleep have really helped.

I’m sitting here working late again, and my therapist and I had a chat about that. Since work is a coping mechanism for me, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing to work into the evening while I’m comfortable at home. But apparently not putting it down and doing my own thing is not the best, so I made a plan for my upcoming days off to rearrange my space so that work is over there and I am over here…as in, stop working on my laptop from my bed. Yeah…still practicing.

So Many Things Are Good Now, Like Showers

It’s freeing to find comfort in something that was once a burden.

Now that my brain is back to processing trauma, some things are much better, and some are not. It’s why I’m in therapy still, to navigate what stability brings. I’m really glad I know this – that when things are stable for me, my brain feels that it can start releasing information for me to process.

Then I sit and wonder how I’ve forgotten so much. Eh.

For example, showers used to be horrible for me. I got to the point that I dreaded my daily rinse off because I had nothing to distract me and that’s when all of the trauma would hit me full force with anxiety brain. I would try to enjoy the hot water and time to myself, but that didn’t work. Now though? I don’t have the racing, anxious thoughts so often, I have learned to beat them back in still and quiet time, and showers ARE THE BEST. It’s freeing to find comfort in something that was once a burden.

I still kinda hate intense exercise, and I only recently realized why. I used to work out intensely between 7 and 11 hours a week. I was active all day most days with my job, and I was in great shape and really strong. Post wreck I stopped working out, then started to hate exercise. It took some gentle prodding from my therapist to start walking and practicing yoga, and it took another year to realize why I WOULD NOT do more. I once had a tough workout shortly after a traumatic experience, and post-PTSD-inducing trauma I couldn’t make myself do it. I still can’t sometimes, but at least now I know why, and I can work on it and up to it. Cooler temps will help (I do a lot of exercise outdoors because it’s happier for me), here’s hoping for an actual winter this year!

This week I realized why I’ve been limiting my time visiting my grandma. I went to see her the evening of the day of my wreck per our regular schedule, and I acted like nothing happened. I have been caring for my grandma for 4 years, and haven’t viewed it as a burden until now. Now I just can’t even, as the kids say, and it’s a chore to see to her needs when that hasn’t been a struggle for me until the last few months. Well, it’s associated with a trauma event, even if indirectly, so that’s something for me to address too before my brain builds some kind of negative web of neurons about my grandma!

I’ve put just shy of 40 miles on my feet this week and have done some deep stretching in yoga (pigeon pose tonight, which I highly recommend!), so I am sore and feeling a little beat. I was up and down a ladder and jumping off and back on a cabinet to measure a building and windows for work today, and so much of me just wants that elusive total day off. Working this weekend though to not let myself get behind, but not giving up staying active during the week and making time to push my body a little. I had forgotten how good it feels to be tired BECAUSE I DID IT, and it feels pretty good. So did that shower!