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.
Sometimes, when I am very stressed or in the midst of dealing with ghosts from the past, I stutter. This used to be a real problem for me. I also had a lisp. I saw a speech therapist for a short time when I was very young. And it also led to many opportunities for me to show the bullies why it was not a particularly good idea for them to pick on me. But teasing hurts. Which led to me not talking much. Or I would pace myself so it didn’t show up as much. It was not a constant thing and definitely more prominent during times of traumatic experience. But it was still there.
After my father died and we moved to Texas my mother bought a house that saved me. Well the fact that the bathroom had fabulous acoustics actually saved me. My father had died and the majority of the ongoing trauma died with him. But I still had the stutter and the lisp. And this is how the bathroom saved me. Everyday after school when there was a lull between anyone else coming home and my coming home, I would read out loud in the bathroom. I could hear myself clearly and listen for the shape of the words. I read Jane Eyre out loud in the bathroom until I had the stutter under control.
The depth of the language and shaping of the words enabled me to be able to overcome that particular obstacle. It was also an amazing feat since in reality I had only been reading for about four years at that point. Up until the fourth grade I had been just barely getting by in the reading department. But again I kept practicing and reading until viola I could read Jane Eyre. And pretty much anything else that was put in front of me. It was how I escaped the horrors of my life and stayed sane.
The other night I started to stutter again. There is a lot going on in my life and I had been having a particularly hard time with nightmares. While talking to my children I could not get out the words that I wanted to say. I started to panic. It is kind of a claustrophobic feeling to not be able to talk. To not be able to express the things that you are feeling. It creates a sense of being trapped. I took a moment to think and try to get past the feeling and relax so that the words could come out. I stayed silent and let the breathing ease my thoughts back into a place that was calm. And then I slowly began to finish what I was saying.
There are fewer and fewer times when I feel my ability to speak slip away. Being able to remember how to stay calm and speak slowly has helped. As has the knowledge of breathing and being mindful of what is happening around me at that very second. And not the panic that is trying come from the past. Right now at this very minute there is no threat, there is only me and the sounds of the cars driving past and the sound of the keys as I type. In this moment I can speak and not stutter, be free of any traps, and allow myself to just be at peace.
Safety is something that should never be discounted. Feeling safe has been a very integral part of healing. When I am unable to do something because I am afraid or the situation triggers panic for me I stop and try to see how to change it. I have learned that I am a triangle peg living in a round hole world. I am way beyond the average square peg. I have found that the easiest way for me to get through things is that whenever possible to take out the hack saw and make the hole fit me.
This does not mean I go around insisting that the world fit me and everyone has to accommodate me. I try to fix it the best I can with out terribly inconveniencing anyone. I look at the picture and see what I can change. For example: I have a cell phone that I use just for me. I don’t give out the number but I use it to call home or so home can reach me. That way if I start to panic I can call home and hear a familiar voice that helps to soothe the fear. It also helps with my eternal fear of the car breaking down. This fear alone has kept me from driving very far. But that is another story.
I have also instituted the program of “safety buddy” into my life. I think that right along with service animals there should be a safety buddy program available to everyone. A safety buddy is just a friend that agrees to go with me and be there for moral support. Because I am afraid to do something.And that fear goes beyond the basic feeling of being just afraid. This is the type that precedes the big panic attacks.
For instance, I cannot be in crowds for very long before my head starts to feel like a hive of bees has been released in it, my heart rate starts to climb and I have trouble seeing. Thus if I have to go somewhere where there will be lots of people I take a safety buddy. They have the responsibility of getting me out if I cannot. Or just talking me through it if I stat to panic. I have been doing a lot more without safety buddies over the past few years. But their kindness in accompanying me has not gone unnoticed. Everyone needs a safety buddy.
So if you know someone that could use a safety buddy or you need a safety buddy there is no shame in reaching out. I have found that there has always been a hand to grasp mine. Even from unexpected places. And sometimes being a safety buddy has been, for me, a growing and rewarding experience.
Safety should never be overrated.