For the last few months I have been struggling. Struggling to write this blog. Struggling to find a peaceful place in my mind. Just struggling with everything.
Then something began to change in my house. My daughter, who has been struggling with depression for a while started to do something different. She started to exercise. And to do things that she wasn’t doing before. It all started with a small yoga practice. Then moved on to jumping rope and running. She started small. Doing them for a short time and then increasing a little then staying at that level.
She has begun to feel stronger inside herself and less depressed. There is a very strong glow about her now. She has begun to inspire me.
I look at myself and I say there is no way I can do that. I can’t do those yoga positions. I can’t walk very far. I can’t… See a pattern? But then I started to really watch her. She is not doing more than her body can do, only challenging it to do more. She has made it past the wall of inertia that keeps me back.
Yesterday I started to do my very small yoga practice. It felt really hard to start. It was really hard to get my body to move at first. There was so much stiffness in all of my muscles. Each movement was loosening muscles that I had let become almost rock like. With each movement my mind was starting to loosen up as well. All this was followed by meditation. I have built up to fifteen minutes now. Which is pretty good for someone who gets distracted by dust particles floating past.
My daughter is rapidly becoming my hero without her knowing it. And my inspiration to change. The struggles are all there still. The challenges have not decreased. My mind and my body however are starting to grow a little bit stronger each day. As I watch my daughter overcoming her own challenges I am inspired to try to move past my own.
Lately I have been overwhelmed by stress and changes in the things around me. By the end of the day I am filled with extreme sensory overload. It sometimes reaches a point that the only thing that I can do is go to bed and hide under my covers for half an hour.
After one particularly hard day at my internship site I called home and told my family I would be home a few hours later than usual. I needed to decompress from everything that had happened that day. I went to a restaurant that my husband and I go to regularly. I sat at the table where we usually sit. I ordered something that I have had many times in the past. And I pulled out my kindle and started to read a book that I have read before. There was no new input. Everything was familiar. After about an hour I felt calm and a lot more peaceful. I was able to process the stimulus of the day.
I had gone to a place that was constant. There was nothing new to interfere with the processing of the day. Later I thought about how I was feeling and how I had decompressed in such a short time. And how it had been such a thoroughly relaxing thing. The thought that came to me was that I was processing in a place where there was continuity. A place where nothing new existed and nothing was competing for my attention. There was no new input.
It felt like a moment where a light bulb is turned on and you realize that the switch for the light had been there the whole time. And I was just noticing it. Having a space that is continuously the same and never changing or at least only subtly changing can be extremely healing for an over stimulated mind. I had heard of people having a meditation space where they would always go and thought that it was a very cool. I never felt that it was something that would benefit me.
Creating and having a space of continuity has now become very important in my self-care plan. It is part of the “what pleasant activity did you do?” section of my plan. Doing this helps me to work with my difficulty in dealing with change in general. I am finding a place in the storm of my life that is always calm. A place that is not overstimulating and whispers to me to come in and find peace.
I hope everyone can find that place and visit it often when things in life become overwhelming.
I have always loved stories. I have loved to hear them and read them. When I was little we had this really large stereo. It had a radio, phonograph and a reel to reel tape player. There was one reel that I loved. It was filled with children’s stories. Everything from Jack and the Beanstalk to Cinderella. It was fabulous. I learned how to load a reel to reel when I was four and could set it up myself. I would listen to that tape all the time. My mother had some of Shakespeare’s plays on albums and would listen to those sometimes. I liked the rhythm of the language. The way things flowed. The importance of the story.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a story that they tell the world and that they tell themselves. Sometimes those two stories match. And sometimes those stories do not match. Growing up I had one story that I told to people about the bruises or the other things I was struggling with. And then there was the true story. The one that I did not share with anyone. The story that I kept secret and hidden. The pain and emotions that I always kept hidden and locked away.
Lately I have been struggling with the emotions and feelings brought up by people. There are times in life when you encounter someone that just sets your teeth on edge. Someone that no matter what you do just annoys you so much you have no way to respond. There is a person in my life right now that does that for me. I can sit there and say to myself that they behave the way they do because they need attention and they need to be acknowledged and validated. But it does not matter. I still feel my blood pressure boil when I see them. Not so much now as say three weeks ago, but still it makes me want to avoid them all together.
Someone whose opinion I value very much told me that “she just fakes it till she makes it” when it comes to these things. But that is something I struggle with. For so many years I faked my way through life. Faked the smile. Faked the normal life. Faked the fact that I could barely stand sometimes. Now I have trouble being anything but honest to myself. I put my emotions out there. If I am confused I say so. If something makes me nervous, I say it does. I don’t lie to myself anymore. I have begun to make my inner and outer stories match.
Sometimes I feel like that makes me very vulnerable. I also wonder if it makes me appear to be less competent. I do know one thing. I can not keep faking it any more. I have begun to resolve my feelings about this one person. And I am glad that I am doing it in a way that I feel is honest to myself.
The story that I told myself when I was in the midst of the abuse was one of that said I must somehow have done something wrong. Why else would those that were to take care of me do this much harm. But it was never about me. It was never about anything I said or did. And my story now is about me. And that the only thing I can change is me. I can’t change this person that drives me nuts. I can change my behaviors and the story that I tell myself. I can be honest in my story. I can tell my story with honesty. Because I am a good story teller. And I am a good listener,even to my own story.
Change is one of those things that is inevitable. It does not mean that I particularly change but that things change. I do change and I particularly like it when it is a change for the better. But, alas, that is not always the case.
This year with resolutions and hopeful thoughts change looks like a good thing. But it is also a difficult thing. Especially when it bumps up against my long held comfort and safety mechanisms. Those things that I turn to to feel either safe or comforted. And although those things were insanely helpful at one point they have ceased to be helpful in quite a few ways.
Hiding, is a big one for me. Things get scary or are not working right and I want to go to ground and hide until the storm passes. This was very helpful as a child and even as a teenager to a great extent. Yet as an adult it is not that helpful. Whether I want them or not I have responsibilities that I have to meet and battling the desire to hide and run away is very difficult. But I am getting really good at not running. No matter how much my stress headaches want to take over.
There are some things that we do that are so very comforting to us but oh so very not healthy for us. Everyone has those things. It is not just those people who have had trauma. Everyone has a fall back plan to lay low and lick their wounds after a bad day. For some it is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or some other ice cream. Or it could be anything. The point is everyone has them.
But the main point is that when you have a large list of them and you know that they are not helping you anymore and are actually hurting you it is time to look at change. The biggest thing I am finding as I try to change how I am dong things is that I try really hard not to create a void. Creating that void has always led to filling it with much worse or far more of the bad thing than I originally started with. The void is created by taking something bad away but not replacing it with something good. I am still going to need something to help on a bad day or when things have totally fallen apart. And I would much rather it not be potentially harmful down the road.
New thoughts and replacing habits can meet up with resistance in our minds. And that is okay. Change is not always easy. If it was we would do it all the time. We just need to keep revisiting that change and thinking about it until we can sit easier with it. And then make the next step to ward changing. First I need to see the change and then I can do the change.
Taking stock of all the positive things that I do not have to change gives me some space to look at what I am doing that needs to be let go of. And then I can move on. I know I can do this because I have done it before. Everyone has done it before. We have all replaced something in our lives with something else. To do this we need compassion for ourselves and allow ourselves to make mistakes and view each day as a new day to try again.
Because everyday really and truly is a new day. Everything gets another chance.