It’s My Birthday!

This seems to be the year that I can process why I hate my birthday so much.

Last night was hell.

My birthday is a trauma anniversary. Eating is a coping mechanism. Work is a coping mechanism. Isolation is a coping mechanism. Ironically, all things that I can’t always avoid…

I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday and napped in between working. I had nothing left, and in therapy I identified that I felt like I didn’t matter to the people close to me and felt alone. I had forgotten that my birthday was used as a weapon against me in previous years, and it took most of the day for me to consciously remember that, and to realize that I was having a rough day because I was anticipating another horrible birthday. Another day that was supposed to be about me on which I was ignored, abused and made to feel like nothing.

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I ran off to the desert this year and thought through how to reclaim my birthday. I was going to make it about me doing for myself this year, about not relying on others to make the day special. My brain had other ideas, and last night was an emotional post-trauma hell. This morning I’m still shaky, still feeling a bit off. The well wishes started before 6 this morning, which I really appreciate. I still can’t connect to them, and I’m still a bit walled off, and still a bit emotional, but I’m much better, and the crazy has subsided.

I understand that sometimes the brain – and this seems to be true for mine – cannot process trauma until it feels safe to do so. My experience with that is as soon as I think I’ve taken a step forward in recovery and made progress, I get rewarded by the baseball bat of trauma memory. Congrats! You’re doing great in recovery! WHACK! It’s so painful and frustrating and…shit. This seems to be the year that I can process why I hate my birthday so much. Maybe that means a better next year? I was able to sit with the pain last night. I still haven’t needed Xanax this year. Yep, I made it through last night without meds to knock me out so I could avoid it. I took the beating, and today I kinda feel like I got that beating.

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I woke up early to a quiet house. No cards, no acknowledgement that it’s my birthday. It’s expected, my family doesn’t make a big deal out of my birthday. I used to be the one to make a big deal out of it, used to make my own cake and organize my celebration, so I can understand why they don’t. And the point for me is to not rely on others for this. Emotionally, it’s still a letdown, but rationally, I enjoy the quiet morning. It’s raining and cold and I’m temped to not even leave the house today. I can work from the comfort and safety of my bed again, and ignore the world for another day. I can nap again if I need to.

Cause, you know, it’s my birthday!

Wreckiversary #4

A 5k, lobster rolls, popcorn for dinner and some stroke-inducing college football.

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Four years ago today I lived. Since then I have done little beyond survive. I think that was ok, because I did survive, and now I get to start living.

I ran (hahahaha I mainly walked) a 5k with a large group of friends. Three of them placed (they actually ran), and we had a great fun time, kids, strollers and all. I missed my usual bagels since they had sold out by the time I got there, and the bagel guy told me that if I message him next time and let him know I’ll be late, he’ll keep a couple back for me. This is why I like to know the people who make my food! What a kindness!

Bagels a no go, I grabbed a couple lobster rolls from a food truck and headed home for pajamas and college football. I knitted, I ate popcorn for dinner, I am almost having a stroke over this game.

While it sounds nice – and is nice – these times usually bring up unresolved issues for me. I still struggle to find a peaceful lack of churning thoughts. Even last night I was very concerned about a payment that hasn’t made it into our mailbox. This morning I had a note from the client letting me know the check had been misplaced, but was now found and in the mail. I spent a good half an hour trying to fall asleep last night but wide awake over an issue that had resolved itself. It’s not just sleep, it’s any time I’m not “busy”. And those churning, anxious thoughts drag me back to previous coping mechanisms and conjure back up previous issues.

I’ll write more about it later, but I have a bunch of boomerangs in my life. People who come, leave, then come back, always on their own terms. I never know when they’re in or out, never know if they’ll respond or not, and when they will or won’t pop back up with an unexpected text message. I had one pop up last week, he’s already gone again.

WHY???

I invest emotions, energy and time into other people, so every time this happens I don’t just drop it, it affects me and it takes a few days for me to let it go and move on. You would think that since I know that about myself and know this about them that I would “know better”. Sure, except that I often want people to be better than they are, and I want them to treat me better than they do, but I don’t demand it because for years I was told in so many ways that I don’t have value. That has stayed with my subconscious, and I am just now learning why this is such a challenge for me to just cut people off. One more thing for my brain to churn on. And 4 years later, I am so proud that I can say that and look forward to a day when that and many other things are not so damn hard.

Me Too

The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too.

One day away from my second trauma anniversary of the week (both 4 years ago), my resting heart rate is back down to where I’d like it to be, I’m still losing weight a bit at a time, my hormones seem to be more balanced for the first time in about 5 months and I was able to say without hesitation yesterday, “We don’t blame victims.”

Praise God.

With the number of celebrities stepping forward to say that they have experienced sexual harassment and assault, including rape, with the national conversation opening up about longstanding acceptance, even expectation of this behavior, and the long silence of victims who were afraid to lose their jobs, their credibility or more…Me too.

My hope is that light will be shed on the issue as well as on the perpetrators of sexual violence. This is something that lives in darkness and secrecy, and dies in the light. I also hope that we support those who choose to speak about their experiences, and we support those who do not. I’m one that doesn’t care to talk about it, but I think it’s important to say “Me too”. I experienced years of harassment and assault – I was groped and grabbed and propositioned by men who acted like they had a right to me. Like so many other women I didn’t make a big deal out of it, smiled, stepped aside, and learned to avoid them. I’m thankful my experiences weren’t violent, but that’s another thing I hope people come to realize. Harassment and assault aren’t always violent. They aren’t always blatant or loud, they are very often manipulative, and they are designed to maximize blame and shame for the victim. The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too. I get it. I’ve been there. I don’t have to be there any more, again, Praise God.

For those of us – women and men – who have felt like we had to stay in the shadows, not take the risk, not lose our jobs, not lose our credibility, not lose whatever else we have at stake…I hope the current conversations about non-consensual sexual interactions provide you the opportunity to heal, to feel recognized and heard whether you choose to speak or not. I hope you get to see that blame and shame are not for you, they are for the people who perpetrated this. And if you are ready to share, I hope you have a safe space to do it. For me, it’s enough to say “Me Too”.

 

12 Hours of Sleep Later

I let out so much trauma yesterday.

Yesterday having a therapy session coincide with a trauma anniversary was really a gift. After a few months of distraction by the happenings of life, I got back to what had been holding me back fromĀ living. Feeling at peace with something that had taken me three and a half years to even verbalize, forgiving myself, not placing any expectations for what the next few days would look like…thank God I’ve come so far.

I was exhausted yesterday. I felt like I worked all day but accomplished nothing (not true, got a lot done, but didn’t produce anything new and I like to produce work), and by the time 4pm rolled around I was ready to bounce out of the office and go for a walk to clear my head. I did, it was very hot, and I was ready for shower, dinner and bed when I got home. Shower, pizza and bed, more specifically, because I wasn’t about to cook and pizza sounded like the ticket, which it was.

Part of my recovery struggle has been with food, because I tend to stress eat (I think they call it eating your feelings) and my weight has, throughout my adult life, often been 30-40 pounds above where I would like it to be. Now is such a case, and I tend to experience guilt over eating foods that aren’t “healthy” because that’s how it works, right? You eat healthy food, you aren’t overweight. Except that’s not how it works for me. One of the things I said yesterday was “I have no shame about it.” There are more places in my life that I can speak those words with authenticity. Like eating pizza.

I’ve discovered that when I sleep and take time for myself, when I don’t focus on food, when I don’t have cortisol production going 24/7, I don’t have to worry about what I eat, even after 30. So it was never about the food, it was about the unresolved trauma that kept stacking up until it got to be too much. Now that I’m processing it all and learning better ways to think about my experiences, I can eat pizza guilt-free because it’s no longer about comforting myself, it’s about enjoying some pizza, and I don’t over-enjoy it. I can put it down. I did last night, then fell asleep early and woke up when I was ready. 12 hours later.

My body needed that. I let out so much trauma yesterday. Early on in therapy I used to come home exhausted, and this was similar to that. But this time I let myself rest and sleep and shout-out to my business partner who is so accepting and accommodating of my needs. I am still on slow-roll and that is FINE. I don’t have to hit it hard every day. Yesterday was about acknowledging how hard I’ve been hit and being proud of how hard I’ve worked to heal.

4th Anniversary of the Day I Started to Heal

Today has been hard for me to get to. Four years ago I got a phone call that left me numb and horrified and unable to breathe. I got tossed aside and betrayed by a person who blindsided me, then spent the next two years emotionally beating the life out of me over the guilt they felt. That was six days before I nearly died in a car wreck. Four years ago was not a good week for me.

This is a good week, because for the first time in years I am able to recognize that it was not the end I had believed it to be, it was the beginning of four years of healing and all the good that has come from that. It was the day I learned to open my eyes, be honest with myself, authentic with others, and declare to myself thatĀ I AM VALUABLE.

Saturday won’t be about remembering the day I almost died, I am running a 5k with a lot of friends to celebrate how far I have come in my recovery. A lot was taken from me four years ago, and four years later I have gotten back so much more.

The New Normal? Geez I Hope Not.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it.

I’m about a week into moving from my normal anxiety program into anger/rage/short fuse under tight control. I don’t want to explode on someone and hurt their feelings.

After a week of this I have zero idea still of what is behind it, and can only guess its some combination of weather/trauma anniversary approaching/lack of support from my family/stupid friends/driving in rain a few days (I wrecked in the rain). I have done different things every day, eaten sugar, not eaten sugar, eaten gluten, not eaten gluten, taken vitamins, drank more water, gotten more sleep, shrugged off some responsibilities, taken on some responsibilities, exercised, not exercised, read before bed, eaten tacos and organized my work space.

No. Change.

Now it feels like the new normal, which is not good news, and I don’t know how to change it because the things I usually do to feel better are having zero noticeable effect. And since I’m pissed of at everything all day anyway (plus there is not a minute of the day that I don’t want to DRINK), I’m more annoyed than usual at my weight, my work, my family, my friends and my hair.

I can exercise choice, right?

Might be time to make that plan to lose the trauma weight.

I have been ON IT at work, which is going really well, and I am also putting it down when the work day is over.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it. 4 years later they are not going to change even as I continue to. And that’s really ok.

My friends and their bonkers relationships are also not my problem. Better to accept their weird selves and not insert myself into what annoys me.

I got a haircut, and it looks amazing. Go me.