Getting Me Back

Sex and dating have been the last big issues I haven’t really dealt with post-PTSD. I didn’t have to, so I didn’t, and figured I’d deal with it when I had to. Well, now I have to if I want this relationship to continue. Which I do, because Client’s Brother is an incredible surprise, and I’d like to see where we go. He knows I still have a lot of shit to work through, and he’s kind and compassionate about it. Since I have a giant question mark about my reactions to everything (post-assault I am pretty skittish about, well, everything), I have no idea what I’m comfortable with and what I’m not. I have so many negative emotions about sex and dating, and changing that is going to take time and energy that I don’t yet have available for this. He’s walking through this with me, and I couldn’t really ask for more. It’s quite wonderful.

As I’m rolling into the end of the work year and things slow down for about a month, I have some space to step away from the office and focus on myself. It’s time I really need to do this, to get ME back. I need to form different coping habits, need to resolve some background noise and pursue some things that bring me joy, things that I haven’t had the energy to pursue. As much as the recovery process is central to my life, I’m ready to move beyond recovery and be more than the anxiety and scars. I think that identity was ok for a while, and I think it gave me a bit of shelter, but I’m more than the scars and want to be more than the anxiety. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I don’t start things on Mondays and I try to avoid high-expectation change scenarios. I’d rather start something on a Tuesday in April. So no end-of-year or new year plans, just seems like the right time to push myself forward a bit and regain some of what I like about myself.

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!

 

Aaaaannnnnddd…the Client has a Brother

I don’t think I was imagining our chemistry.

I met with a potential new client today. We had spoken over the phone, and I suggested meeting in person, partly so I could see if I really did think he is capable of pulling off the project he wants to do, partly because I find face to face interaction to be worth the time when I am trying to draw people’s ideas out of their heads. He was as nice and authentic as I had thought he might be, and if we can agree on a price he’ll be my newest client with a long-term partnership. I’m really excited. I frequently meet the most amazing people in my job, and it makes the risk and frustration of owning a business worth it.

Turns out client has a brother, who I also met because he will be closely involved in the project. And he was at the meeting. And…hello.

It has been a long time since I met a guy and we had instant chemistry. I thought I might be imagining the connection, but since we talked most of the time and a lot about personal stuff rather than business (business partner was monopolizing the client anyway and I let that go because business partner is working on adapting to my way of doing things and he needs practice), and he eventually touched my arm…fist pump.

It was unusual and nice. I wasn’t getting hit on at the gas pump or asked out by a creepy younger guy without a stable job (or emotional state…), wasn’t being targeted as an easy one night stand (am I actually putting off that vibe?!?) and wasn’t viewed as a potential trophy. We just connected. And now I am really distracted and trying to remind myself to KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL.

I don’t operate formally unless I am making public presentations or working with clients who like to do business formally. I meet people where they are, listen to them tell their stories, tell a few of mine, poke fun at myself and try to find out what they really want that they aren’t telling me if they haven’t yet figured it out for themselves. A lot of my clients become friends, and I get invested in their lives and their projects. I like doing things that way. It’s fulfilling and, a lot of times, great fun.

I’ve just never wanted a client to ask me out before…

Making Friends From Total Strangers

A few tips from an anxiety pro.

I’m at a conference, making friends and connections and finding people who can send work my way. It’s finally time for a break before dinner, and do I need it! I was up late last night knitting my contribution to the silent auction (you won’t see me procrastinating on a craft project again!), up early to finish knitting and get to breakfast, and it is not the easiest thing for a person with anxiety to sit through a lot of sessions…which is why I mostly skipped them this afternoon. I’m here as a professional service provider, not as a learner (yup, may sound over confident but I am really good at this business and I come for clients), and it’s a challenge for me to not be completely exhausted a few hours in. Plus it’s cold and wet and dreary and I’ve had no coffee, only a cuppa Earl Grey early. I’ll sleep well tonight!

One of the things that helps me in these situations now is that I remember while there are a lot of friends and a few cliques here, there are also a lot of people who are here by themselves, who would be glad to not sit by themselves and who are here because what we do is also important to them. In a room full of strangers, I have a lot of potential friends, they just need to see me be friendly. So I am, and it works really well. As much as society has been seduced by the Modernist Utopia of efficiency, speed and mechanization, what we really want is connection and relationship. So I do that.

I’ll sleep even harder when I get home.

How Are You? Cranky.

This should all have been done yesterday. Still nothing.

Hello fall, my old nemesis.

Shorter days and cold are not for me. I experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, cold makes my bones hurt deep down, and for the next several months I will have a default of moody and in pain. Winning combination, that.

I appreciate that many people enjoy fall. It’s just not the joyful harbinger of the holidays for me that it seems to be for others. And I think pumpkin spice lattes are gross. Wondering how I have any friends yet? I keep a lot of this to myself.

There is a lot of stress and busyness in my work circles right now. Fall is often a wind down into the holidays, when we start doing the fun community stuff and clients get distracted by life and shopping and apple cider and…whatever. Somehow that is not the case this year. We are really busy, my colleagues are really busy, we are putting out several project proposals for work that will begin before the end of the year and it’s all a bit of a fast balancing act.

Which is why it irritates the hell outta me that my business partner is not just handling things.

I am handling things on my side. We have a lengthy “to-do” list to get through the next three weeks and our big business development event of the year, and we designated responsibilities. None of his are done. Not one.

What I am REALLY struggling with right now is how to address this. It’s not as simple as “get your shit done.” (I know, I know, yes it sounds like it’s that easy but it’s not because of the nature of the work and the differences in our skill sets).

I have gotten us a few new clients (very grateful for every single client who chooses to trust us with their project), we need to get proposals out, I gave the content of the proposals, which means all that is left is to fill in the information in the template and send it out with a nice letter and some backup documents. This should all have been done yesterday. Still nothing. And I am about to blow my top because I am on vacation this weekend and only have so long today to deal with this.

I don’t want to be a jerk. I don’t want to be unaccommodating. I want a long term healthy and positive partnership. Except right now. Right now I want to do it myself after making cutting statements with a few terse words.

 

I Had To Go Be Public Me

It’s exhausting though. Because this has been a hard couple of weeks for me, and I have very little spare energy at the moment, and I just poured it into a bunch of strangers. 

Anxiety makes things harder, amirite?

I had to go be public me all day yesterday – the charming, attentive, engaged, contributing, smiling, listen to your whole life story and make you feel good for telling it me. It’s not an act, it’s authentic. I enjoy being out and about and meeting people and making things happen. I also like to be rewarded with yummy food for showing up, not gonna lie.

It’s exhausting though. Because this has been a hard couple of weeks for me, and I have very little spare energy at the moment, and I just poured it into a bunch of strangers.

Before I would not have thought about it in those terms. I would have done my job, fulfilled my obligations and gone on the next day with no break in the schedule. It was a pace that kept me from having to deal with myself. A year and a half later, I able to say, “Oh hey that was a lot yesterday given where I am right now so today would be good for taking it easy.” And I do.

And I’m doing it without stress eating. I cannot tell you what a big thing that is for me.

I didn’t binge eat when I got home last night. I had some toast with butter because I was a little hungry but not really. I had toast with a scrambled egg this morning because, again, I was a little hungry but not starving. I had my tea with half and half as usual.

I did not melt down into a binge-eating, guilt-inducing mess. That is worth celebrating. The painful process of scraping out what’s left in the deep recesses of my trauma experience was so worth it, because of how I was able to handle yesterday and today with a calm and gentleness that I have rarely afforded myself in the last several years. Yes.

Saturday Morning Rocket Math

It will take a lot of math, the level I like to call “rocket math” (“rocket science” is really just a bunch of math, in my mind).

I was texting a friend last night in between him prepping for a chili competition today and me being the driver while out with my girlfriends. He asked how my love life was, which made me laugh because that’s about the last thing on my mind. I think he was checking to make sure I’m still single but I have cognitive distortion so there’s no telling. Ha!

I responded with how I felt in the moment, but my own words stuck with me:

Sitting in the ICU for 9 days while we waited to see if they could save my brother’s fingers was horrible. Doing nothing but care for my family and try to keep my company going for three months was hard. The transition month going back to dealing with my trauma was almost worse. I have had no business dating.

I’m just about through all the shit I’ve had to slog through in therapy, and I think I’ll be open to dating in another month or so. Just hasn’t been important while I’ve been in survival mode.

You know the best part of my week right now? A coffee shop opened downtown. It’s run by a surfer hippie. I know you don’t drink coffee but their cold brew is the best I’ve had and doesn’t cause me anxiety. They have a bagel guy who makes the best bagels I’ve ever had, and I get up early on Saturday morning no matter how exhausted I am and go get coffee and bagels. That has been my thing just for me for a couple of months.  As much as I love coffee and bagels, I would like to have more in my life that’s just for me than that.

Which is one of the reasons I was up early this morning after a late night out doing “rocket math” with my business partner. We have a passion project that we first cooked up in graduate school that we are now starting to formalize into a written theoretical framework. It will take a lot of math, the level I like to call “rocket math” (“rocket science” is really just a bunch of math, in my mind).

I used to think I couldn’t do math like this. I used to think I couldn’t do a project of this intellectual magnitude. Yes, I can. And if I can do rocket math, I can have a few more things that are just for me.