Thursday, January 03, 2019

Baby Steps

I've been oblivious to my body's communication my whole life. I imagine that has its roots in my premature birth and the next to no physical contact for the first three months of my life. Interoception is a new term to me but I've done some reading on it and can see how my premature birth coupled with physical and later, sexual abuse, and it makes sense that I'm not skilled at hearing my body's communication. My default is to freeze. There's whole whack of stuff frozen in my body.  The therapy I am doing is helping shift the trauma and loosen it up so that it no longer rules my life. It leaves me feeling hope filled.

When I had cancer, and was given all my options for treatment, my body shouted "NO" at me. Every time I pictured sitting in a chair for chemo that "NO" was so insistent that I asked for a second opinion about my choices. That opinion (after many tests) confirmed that the "NO" I'd heard was in line with the test results. I have no idea if I would choose differently today.

I had therapy yesterday. Progress is in small, baby steps. Which is fitting considering that my trauma started at birth.

Yesterday, instead of swallowing my tears and tamping them down I let them roll down my face and flow freely.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Difficult Thing

It's been a busy ten days. I'll be in my pj's for the second day in a row today. Yesterday I served brunch to a houseful in my pj's despite my plan to go shower and change before the food was ready. At least I'd put on a bra so that was a win in my books. I then stayed in pajamas all day. A day made complete with fires going in both fireplaces and food ordered in for supper. With any luck today will be a repeat.

I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore. I have a journal somewhere, from many years ago, with a list of 50 things I wanted to accomplish in that year. My perpetual personal improvement project. Every so often I go looking for that list to see if I've done any more of them. Mostly I look at the things listed and shake my head. All those years when who I was wasn't enough. Ever.

If there's anything worth changing it would be that kind of thinking. Now, that's a difficult thing.


Friday, December 21, 2018

But Still


I don't know if I've shared this photo before and I'm too tired to check.But either way it's a reminder for me today. I had great plans. Then I bought last minute Christmas dinner groceries and used up every single spoon I had. Plans were kibosh-ed. Fatigue ruled the rest of the day. I don't know why I am surprised when my energy levels tank.

I had therapy two days ago. I've been trying to settle myself ever since. Late nights and not great sleep have added to the mix. I'm grateful that I have no appointments of any kind between now and the New Year. I'm quite happy to stay home and hibernate.

Every year on this day it feels like a small miracle that one has survived to see it. We had just over 7 hours of daylight today. Tomorrow the daylight lengthens. By three seconds. But still. Hope returns.

All is well.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Speaking

I saw my family physician this week for a check in about my being off work. We've known each other for nearly two decades and that familiarity has it's pluses. He has a quirky and quick sense of humour. I have never once felt like he was in a hurry to get on to his next patient. There's no rule of only bringing one item of concern to an appointment like there is with other doctors in the area.

My goal this appointment was to not cry. Last time I'd cried when I told him how disappointed I was in myself that I had so few things on my daily to do list. Two things that were the sum of my daily accomplishments. It's stretched into a few more since that appointment. Progress.

This time when those familiar  I am a pathetic human being thoughts started going through my head I thought about the little two year old me who threw off her mask. I know she looks at me with pure joy. She's not on board with me shit talking myself. So I forced myself to not even go there. Here's where I am. I am healing. I am getting better. I am not where I wish I was but I will be one day. It helped in the moment.

When my doctor and I started talking about some of the more stress filled parts of my job tears rose up and I told him that I didn't want to talk about it anymore. That my goal was not to cry this appointment. He told me that people are ready to go back to work when thinking/talking about it doesn't create an emotional response. I will get there.


Saturday, December 08, 2018

New Steps To An Old Dance

My therapist has a little waiting area outside her office and I take comfort in the predictability of its seasonal decor. As a constant observer of my surroundings, I notice every little change. Like if a new picture on the wall is crooked. I have resisted the urge to set them straight but it takes effort. I've spent the majority of  my life invested in trying to set all manner of things straight. Particularly people I am in relationship with. There are decades of well worn grooves to that old dance of mine.

When I was sitting in her waiting room yesterday I shifted my gaze, from a picture hanging a little off kilter, to out the window and across the parking lot where the area's largest homeless shelter is located. A taxi pulled up and, after what seemed like forever, the rear passenger door opened and its occupant made their way around the back of the taxi over to where someone was standing. I watched as the person from the taxi reached their arms up and out and embraced the other person. They stood nestled together for such a long time that I felt like my observing was an intrusion. Eventually they broke apart and walked away with their arms around each other's waist. In the fading light, I watched as the taxi's rear lights glowed red when it backed up and drove away.

I turned my attention back to the waiting room, avoiding looking at the crooked picture. I tried to remember all the messy bits of life that had happened since my last therapy session. Things I wanted to share with my therapist so I could get feedback and help processing my responses. She has especially offered me a different way to look at something each time I've uttered the words always or  never. 

In the safety and security of my relationship with her I am learning how to change my own steps, as the picture says. Yesterday, my therapist correctly guessed that when I was challenged to a new pattern this past week, my first thought was fuck you.  She was delighted when I shared that I then had a graced moment where I realized I was being offered a new way of dancing, if you will. And I took it.

As we sifted through the previous ten days and the relationships I've been navigating I felt hopeful. Predictable patterns are changing. I'm changing.

As a non toucher my whole life it is a new thing for me to be the one who craves a hug from Dearest One. We've developed a practice of hugging each other when one of us is leaving the house and then again when one of us returns. We hug for a long time.

One of the things I thought about while I watched those two people hug it out on the lawn of the shelter was how good it feels these days to be hugged like that. As they hugged for at least 20 seconds, I'd like to think it was life giving for them both, too.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Breathe

I put this photo up where I can see it while I write, mostly because I love the photo itself.  For the past few weeks it's become more than just a pretty picture as I've been working with Comforting Therapist on some deep breathing exercises to help settle my system.

My tendency is to take shallow breaths. When you're a kid trying to make yourself invisible in order to escape notice, it makes sense that shallow breathing would become a compensating behaviour.

I don't need to make myself invisible anymore.

But I want to sometimes.

Like in a recent rough patch in one of my distant, but necessary, relationships that has caused me a lot of sleepless nights over the years. Well, my reaction to the relationship has cost me a lot of sleep. That's the more honest statement. Just when I think things are predictable they morph into the same kind of unpredictable shit I grew up with and it's hard not to feel like I'm in the middle of a childhood nightmare. My breath got very shallow as I tried to navigate the conversation and prevent an all out shit show. I momentarily forgot every coping skill I'd learned in the past 18 months.

When I woke up the next morning I stayed in bed for a bit and watched as my mind started to shit talk myself for forgetting those coping skills.  I'm so disappointed in myself was my first thought. This is a well worn path in my brain. Thanks to my two year old self I took some deep breaths and stopped my inner critic in her tracks, reminding her that it served no good purpose to go down that path.

Breathe. Just breathe, I told myself.

One little victory. One change of pattern. One more breath.



Friday, November 30, 2018

Healing Takes Time

I've had a rough few days physically. Rest has been my best medicine. There was a time when I had such limited spoons that I could have a shower or use my one available spoon for something else. Dearest One used to wash my hair for me on those days so I wouldn't use up all my energy doing it myself.

I spent some time getting help for my emotional health back then and that extended inpatient help was the difference between limited spoons and more than enough spoons to function. I had no idea at the time that my emotional health affected my physical health to the extent that it did.

Yesterday I went to an event and quickly realized I didn't have enough spoons to manage it. I came home and crawled into bed and slept.

I'm grateful that today is better. Not a lot of spoons but more than yesterday.

Sometimes I forget that healing takes energy. That emotional work can be exhausting even when it's fruitful work.

I had plans for today. Just writing all this out brought my attention to the reality that I don't have enough spoons for my plans. Good things plans can be changed.