Things aren’t so hard. Still hard, yes, but not so hard. Positive change doesn’t seem impossible. Challenges don’t seem insurmountable. Calm and focus are not longer out of my reach. Yoga is not too difficult for me to enjoy. Prioritizing a balanced diet, sleep and rest is not making me miserable, behind with work or friendless. I am not alienating people by asking for what I need. I am not crippled by being honest with myself on the habits I need to change.
Things are better, I am healing and I am grateful.
I’m working, I’m focused, I’m doing yoga without issue other than that it’s challenging for my body, I’m ignoring things that aren’t important right now, I’m connecting, I’m planning ahead, I’m not pushing myself to do things “just because” or out of some unhealthy sense of obligation, I’m eating for fuel and nutrition and not to cope, I’m sleeping, I’m learning and I am so, so grateful for today <3.
Yesterday I completed the yoga session I had to stop in the middle because it was activating me. I’ve lost 2.5 lbs in 2 days. My resting heart rate is almost back down where I want it. I’m eating mindfully and not to cope. I’m drinking my water goals. I’m focusing on work deliverables and getting them out on a timeline I’m satisfied with. I’m saying no.
And this is in the middle of an emotionally challenging and physically tiring week. I’m taking a hard look at what I want and where I want to be and how I get there and who I get there with – and without.
I’m sitting and working on my laptop for long hours, I was in a three hour meeting last night and since I got back from the desert I’ve had very little time for things like cutting my nails and dealing with all of the sand that seems to be clogging my pores and cooking healthy meals. I’ve done those things anyway. I feel like I just have no time right now, which usually sends anxiety skyrocketing for me and freezes me. I’m still moving through my day, doing what I need to and doing things that take care of me, including sleeping and staying calm and reasoned instead of engaging with the thoughts that send anxiety skyrocketing out of control.
I quit drinking for now. It wasn’t a big decision, it just came up last night when I declined an offered drink because I decided I didn’t need that.
Understanding that alcohol is a social lubricant for a lot of people made me realize I don’t have that need, and the benefit to me of not drinking is enough right now to make me lose interest. Practicing mindfulness is really starting to pay off.
I spent the entire Summer Solstice inside, and most of it in a dimly lit room. I’m grateful that I have so much room for improvement. Yoga was not helpful yesterday, it was activating. So I stopped.
I started listening to Brené Brown’s book The Power of Authenticity yesterday. She’s a shame researcher and a delightfully authentic human. In her work she’s found that we experience shame the same way we experience trauma, and I want to heal from shame as much as I want to heal from trauma. I’m starting to understand why they often go hand in hand.
I wanted to do a yoga session and thought that would be within my bandwidth today. 11 minutes in, I realized I was getting activated on my way to a trigger, I was hot and sweaty but not in an “I’m exercising” way, I wasn’t enjoying it and was actually starting to be rather miserable.
I wanted to push through, because yoga is supposed to be a good thing, it isn’t supposed to be activating, it’s supposed to help me connect to my body, I didn’t want to be a quitter, it wasn’t even a hard practice…also I am too fat to get into some of the poses, I can’t believe I can’t do this right now, I’ll never be able to get my life on track…
Ah. The shame gremlins she talked about. The thoughts that make me = bad and wrong and not good enough.
I stopped the session. Yoga wasn’t right for me yesterday. Maybe because I was in the process of learning about shame and realizing how much shame I feel about my body. Maybe because I needed more rest (I hiked for two hours the day before). Maybe because I needed to experience recognizing what is good for me and what is not good for me and acting on that for myself, not because someone else said that was the way to do it.
I’ve leaned into healing this week. I’m still listening to Healing From Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide, and I’ve had to face up to my post-experience and the symptoms that are and aren’t going away. I’ve found that I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck – enough to limit my range of motion. I’ve had a couple of mild headaches. I hurt everywhere at times. I have muscle spasms at times. I have intense and lengthy dreams every night, and yesterday woke up with only survival brain functioning and not much else.
I went for walks anyway. I listened to the book anyway. I did yoga anyway. I slowly stepped forward with work anyway. I ate nutritious food anyway. I ignored all social obligations that were just obligations and not things I truly wanted to do. I handled some banking and finance transactions that needed to happen, I made the beginnings of a plan to run my company solo (my business partner has abandoned me but still has to be officially terminated from the business and we have yet to discuss any of it because he bailed out and has not bothered to communicate). I also made a backup plan for work in case that doesn’t work out.
I’m going to heal anyway.
I haven’t been intentional about it until now. I’m waking up to how often I disassociate, how much memory I don’t have because I wasn’t present, how numb I am, how overwhelmed I am, how often I am in survival mode. I’m still surviving, not living, and I am now starting to understand why.
THIS IS HARD. I’m going to do it anyway.
The next 100 days will end sometime near the end of September, close to the 5-year mark of the week of trauma that nearly took me down. And for the next 100 days, I’m going to be intentional about healing and see where I get.
As I listened to Chapter 3 of Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide I noticed I was experiencing some of the trauma symptoms the narrator was describing. I was tensing up, getting a headache and tightening inward, as if to curl into a ball and protect myself. I was aware I was doing this (mindfulness practice seems to be showing some results!) and unclenched my jaw and rolled my shoulders a bit.
I’ve noticed also during yoga, which I’m practicing more regularly again, that I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my shoulders. There are positions that are really challenging for me, like making a bridge with my fingers pointed toward my feet or clasping my hands behind my back and straightening my arms. I didn’t remember that being the case previously, but a lot of times I blame weight gain for my yoga practice challenges.
Oh…wait…trauma response…tight shoulders…
I’m not sure if it’s more freeing or discouraging to realize that my lack of flexibility and range of motion is due more to trauma than my fat rolls, but it does provide a path forward, and a solution – more yoga!
I started listening to Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide while I walked yesterday. After I did yoga. So there I am doing yoga, exercising, not making excuses and working on my brain.
That shit was hard.
The book was good for me from the start. I’m only to the second chapter, but the first chapter started with “Shit happens.”, and I knew I had found a resource that would help me.
As much as it’s helping, as much as I am already learning and recognizing and feel grateful, it is really hard for me to listen to. Not because she recounts trauma stories, she’s careful not to do that because she understands getting triggered isn’t helpful. It’s hard for me to listen to because I am having to face my own experience head-on. I am having to process what happened as I hear the narrator talk about how our brains and bodies respond when we experience trauma. It’s so empowering to have this information. And so painful.
It was tempting several times to cut the book off and switch over to music for the rest of my walk. And I can certainly do that – she even talks about how to read or listen to the book if you are a trauma survivor in a way that is accessible for you. But for me it’s time to start leaning into it. Time to allow the pain to process, even if it’s hard. And it is.