Climbing Out

Today was meant to be my maiden voyage into the open channel of using EMDR to help me with some of my more anxiety-laden issues. Unfortunately, after I gave her my sick note from my Endocrinologist, she decided that right now I’m in no fit state to take on attempting EMDR. Between my health issues that are pressing, and the fact that I’m still attempting to set up my resources and other components of the EMDR process, going forward with the desensitization part of the EMDR would basically be a moot point when I still have so much going on in this dome of mine.

Through talk therapy today we worked out a few kinks that I have been dealing with, and coming to terms with. This attack of so many new emotions all at once is leaving me practically breathless at certain points. I’ve worked so hard for so long building such strong armor that now as I sit and try to work out my feelings about things I get bombarded with emotions from the right side of my brain and thoughts from my left side. It’s a full onslaught of emotions that range anywhere from repressed from when I was younger, to new emotions that I haven’t even really had the chance to process. I’m having a hard time figuring out how I feel, or if I even feel anything. Going from numb to emotionally ambitious is exhausting.

The idea of using categorization to compartmentalize my emotions is one way I’m giving myself to climb out of my own head. If I don’t begin this process of separating my emotions from my thoughts I’m going to be buried underneath it all. The suggestion my therapist had for aiding me is to use visualization to pull apart the two completely different lives I’ve lead.

Until I was twenty-three years old my life revolved around being a caregiver, and distraction. After my mother passed away I was awarded a new title in life: wife and mother. The catch when you’re attempting to break down the walls of a complicated childhood is the idea that you can’t just reconcile these two lives together. They are not similar in any way. So, today we decided that I need to focus on them separately. There’s my “Mom” categorization and my, “Family life,” categorization.

I will never be able to get anything back from the time in my “Mom” categorization. I will never be able to put a positive spin on anything that transpired in that era of my life. I can’t sit down and talk it out with anyone, nor can I ask anyone to help me make sense of it. It happened, it created the person who wants to be better than she currently is, and this is how I have to approach any recollections that emerge from my mind. This is how I have to categorize these experiences.

Present “family life” instances are what I’m looking to work on with this therapy. The parts I can talk through with Charlie, the parts I can say certain things happened or didn’t happen, and the parts that I can say I learned something from it, or at least gained a positive experience.

My therapist suggested that I should research transcendental meditation in my area and find out if it’s available. From this link: https://www.tm.org/ I was able to find one here in Lexington and learn more about it. It’s part of the ongoing process she wants me to begin starting the new year. My personal journey to wellness was always going to have multiple stops on it, so I’m glad that I’m being guided by my therapist to help me find the best ways to aid my growth.

Another homework assignment my therapist wants me to begin is journaling. I have so much going on in my head at the moment that I can barely make a coherent sentence. Tearing down the walls I’ve built and allowing myself to see and feel things freely and openly has made me realize I have a lot of information that I process. I was conditioned to take in so much of my environment, and I do it without thought, that my therapist said she could see I was battling. She wants me to use journaling as a way to get all the information out of my brain so I’m more of a clean slate when I see her on January 9th, and we begin the EMDR.

So, needless to say, I have a lot to work through, a lot to get on paper, a lot to consider, a lot to recover from at the moment, and I need to be super good to myself, engage in A LOT of self-care, and just continue to keep my head above water.

Here’s to treading in an open ocean …

The 10 Care Commandments

At my endocrinology appointment today I learned some incredibly valuable information. Nothing that I wasn’t already somewhat aware of was revealed, but the way that these symptoms tie into so many other things I’m dealing with right now is where the true epiphany was formed. Come to find out my TSH levels for my hypothyroid are very (high) low, and due to my need to take iron supplements, she feels my medicine is being compromised and I’m not actually absorbing any of it. So, we’re doing things differently for the sake of my hormone levels, and we’re gonna meet again in January. 

She did end up asking me to take a paper to my counselor on Tuesday at my next appointment so that she would be aware of how low my TSH levels were. We talked a lot about how low TSH levels can put someone into an episode of depression and that I would need to be very careful going forward with my awareness of my mood and all that until we can get my levels back on track. 

The whole thing made me really sit down and think about all the times I was exhibiting coping behaviors from dealing with lackluster energy and a more downtrodden mood due to something I wasn’t aware was going on. Then I started thinking about the time’s someone would say something to me about what I was doing, and I’d either have no answer or be made to feel bad that my answer wasn’t technically acceptable. I decided I’d come up with a set of care commandments for the people in my life, or someone else’s, who aren’t sure how to act or what to say/don’t say when someone is going through something a little harder to deal with. 

THE 10 CARE COMMANDMENTS

  1. Shame, shame, I know your name – Nothing good comes from shaming someone. Be it from something a person is aware of, or something a person is fully not aware of, there is never any reason to make a statement like, “It’s probably because you sleep so much,” or, “If you’d go workout (insert any activity) at least you’d be doing something.” Shaming a person for feeling a way they can’t control not only makes them less likely to do whatever they’re being shamed about but motivates them not to communicate with said person again.
  2. Judgy McJudgkins is a jerk – The mentality to judge someone due to their current condition isn’t just an asshole move, it shows the person that instead of offering words of comfort, you’d rather just judge them and walk away. So, feel free to keep your, “You don’t really HAVE to do that/say that/eat that/sleep there, etc…” comments to yourself. Try to be more positive and constructive.
  3. Self-care is the best care – Therefore, if someone turns down your suggestion to do a thing, or a go a place, don’t be offended. Perhaps they just don’t have it in them on that day, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually. It’s crucial to understand that the feeling of being overwhelmed can be so debilitating that even self-care may take a back seat.
  4. Guilty is as guilty does – Someone who is already dealing with feelings of intense guilt by the fact they know they require extra care does NOT need to hear your guilt trip. Imagine in their mind they’re already a nuisance, and then they have to somehow cope with feelings of guilt for not being able to handle a situation or topic. Try to speak more kind, be a bit more compassionate, tell them you know they’re having a hard time but you’re concerned about something. Playing the guilt trip will do nothing but spurn feelings of resentment, and that is definitely not an emotion you want creeping into any relationship. 
  5. Maslow was right and so are you – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (feel free to use the google) defines certain needs as necessary for human growth. Self-actualization, self-esteem, Love, safety, and physiology comprise the pyramid. Before all that, Maslow makes sure to point out there are fundamental needs that every human has to have just to be in a position to meet their hierarchy of needs. Those things are food, water, clothing, and housing. You know, basic stuff. So, if you are in a position where you are attempting to meet your basic needs, like eating food, or drinking fluids, and someone tries to question you about it: Tell them to shut their face. The reason I say this is because the person criticizing you has no way of knowing IF you’ve eaten at all that day, or if you already feel guilty about needing to buy food. Food is a basic need, and you need it. End of story. 
  6. Tempus fugit and forget it – Time alone is crucial for anyone who has a hard time getting out of their own head. If you’re already taking all the steps to help your mind find it’s calming center, then the person who cares for you should know that time alone isn’t a reflection of someone’s relationship with them. Literally, it comes down to letting the mind calm down. The only way to compartmentalize thoughts and allow ourselves to build the building blocks for a more structured brain is to use our imagination. 
  7. Invenio veritas, but don’t keep it to yourself – Honesty is a good policy. Notice I didn’t say is the best policy. Being truthful about how you feel is always the best approach, but if you are unable to be truthful without also being an asshole, then I’d probably tone it down. While I will always encourage an honest conversation if you know the person you are attempting to have a hard life lesson talk with isn’t in the best frame of mind I may put it off or try an alternative approach. Be mindful of what you’ve talked about previously.
  8. Oh dear, everything is so confusing – Keep it simple. Don’t try to make big life decisions or choices while someone is seeking help with mental health or an uncontrollable illness. I realize there will be situations that are out of control and need to be handled but do so gently and with compassion. Don’t expect someone dealing with so much already going on in their head and body to be able to meet you half-way. Expect it to be more twenty-five percent.
  9. I love you, now go away – Don’t take things personal during a time of struggle. When things are all wonky can we really take anything to heart that is said to us? It wouldn’t be fair to you or the person you’re caring for to let words strike deep at a time when someone is struggling just to find the right words to explain what’s going on their mind. Approach any exchange of words with the knowledge that what is said may be a reaction to a deep-seated feeling that was activated through an unexpected trigger. Talk it out, let them explain themselves, be willing to listen, and don’t get discouraged. 
  10. Surprise, it’s not about you – It’s easy to internalize anything. Any word uttered during a conversation, any hand movement that goes against the norm, anything that comes out of left field could easily be taken wrong. Make sure to keep in mind that more than likely an off-handed comment isn’t actually about you, it’s about how the person is feeling regarding themselves. Why? Because when you’re battling with your own feelings, and aren’t sure where you even stand with yourself, you tend to lash out and immediately regret it. That’s not to say that you should just ignore it, but just try to remind yourself that the struggle is hard for them at the moment and you’re the person they’ve chosen to spend the most time with. It’s a beautiful, yet a terrifying, thing. 

These are the commandments that have occurred to me as of late. Since I’m dealing with my own issues, and now dealing with health issues, I need to make sure that the people in my life see these commandments and understand that there’s good ways to help and offer healing, and then there’s bad ways. I can only hope that with continuing to be transparent and offering an open line of communication I can avoid any future problems and we’re all on the same page 🙂 

Anything Unexpected is Dangerous

Today was very exciting, and totally scary, all at once.

My amazing counselor helped me come to some pretty important truths today. For anyone, like me, who suffers from C-PTSD it’s always a movement in the right direction when we can put our feelings into words. Today, that was part of the theme, and I was able to find a statement that really solidified my overall feeling about this armor I wear:

“Anything unexpected is dangerous.” 

– my counselor

I was trying to figure out what my negative core beliefs centered around and while my answers were finances and self-image, in the context of dealing with life, the underlying theme was that I am so conditioned to be in survival mode constantly that anything presenting itself as unexpected would be pushed away by me. It would also be attacked until proven that it wasn’t going to harm me in some way. 

The exciting part of my session today was that my counselor was recently trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, and she wants to begin this therapy on me starting next Tuesday. While I won’t be able to actually use my eyes, due to the fact I suffer from sitting motion sickness (I barf if I watch the Blair Witch Project, for those who don’t know what that means), she’s going to use either snaps, or patting my hands on my legs instead. She even gave me some little coping mechanisms to use on myself between now and then to get me all prepped for using the EMDR. So, that’s totally exciting because I’m fully open to this kind of therapy and the fact she even had an idea of what could possibly help me. 

The one part of our session today that was really an eye-opening experience was when my counselor and I were talking and she stopped me and pointed out that I am clearly left and right brain orientated. I’m ambidextrous, and I’m an INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs scale (which is left and right brain usage.) As we got to talking about how much more complex this would make my ability to overcome anxiety, she confirmed what I’d been feeling most of the year: being left and right brained pushed my feelings and my thoughts into motion simultaneously, thus my infinite struggle with overthinking.

Since I already know I’m battling survival mode kicking in, knowing that I’m also going to war with both sides of my brain wanting to take the lead basically tells me I’m in the right place and I’m doing what I need to do to be better, and become the best version of myself. 

I’m super excited to start EMDR next week and see what it’s all about 🙂 

Be What You Want

“When you’re standing on the barrier of life and death,

When you’re breathing in your last breath,

When death wins the fight,

When you no longer have any right,

For Any right to live is taken away,

And happiness is replaced by sadness and pain,

That’s when you finally understand,

That you could of been whoever you want to be,

You could of done whatever you wanted to do,

As long as you be you.” – alicexD riznor

 
Tomorrow I will be going in for my second counseling session, and I’m reflecting on what I’ve been focusing on in my head over the past two weeks. I keep thinking I should be doing more or doing something at all. I know I’m trying to rush it like I usually do, so I’m making the effort to focus on breathing, enjoying the moment, and not pushing so hard to move everything forward at a break-neck speed.
 
The problem I always come back to is I’m really only certain of one thing: I want to be the best version of myself. What does that mean for each of us, though? Therein lies the issue. Someone reading this would have a whole world of ideas of who’d they like to be that I would never even consider. I want to be what I want, but the first challenge of that is to figure out who that even is, and how I need to change my environment to meet my own expectations.
 
With that in mind, I decided I need to begin the process of surrounding myself with nothing but positive vibes, even if it means I’m the one providing said positivity. Too often I beat myself down and let my self-esteem issues eat me alive while wondering what I’ve done wrong, or if someone is mad at me, and then I feel as if I can’t accomplish anything. How do you combat that?
 
You build your own community through friends and support.
 
I will be required to go outside my insanely safe bubble to achieve the goals I have set for myself for 2019. Knowing that, I know I will also need to put myself in a position where I can’t just let the overwhelming fog of hyper-vigilance encompass everything. Too many times I’ve given in to the crushing feeling of “done” that I get to after pushing, pushing, and again pushing, myself so hard to try and get to the finish line. This time I need to approach all my goals with the knowledge that to be what I want, I’m going to need to outsmart myself in the process.
 
One of my most important goals for 2019 is to reach a healthy weight. Not as a way to be “thin, or skinny,” but as a way to be a healthy individual. I’m going to turn forty in May, and I’d like to be well on my way to a healthier lifestyle by that point so I’m not going to push myself to a “goal weight,” because let’s face it that’s the lamest thing we can say anymore. My goal is to just be a healthy, or albeit healthier, weight by the end of 2019. An entire year should be a good enough time frame to at least come close to my healthy weight goal. I know it’s lame as hell to use this one, but it’s a real issue as I’ve gotten older now, and I need to finally not allow myself to get so burnt out and to just see it through.
 
Another goal and the only other goal I’m really claiming at this point is to focus on my courses for my Master’s program and to just try to do the best I can. I worked my ass off for my Bachelor’s, so I’m hoping the same mind frame will result in the same outcome. It’s just another step on my giant set of steps to get to where I’m a Licensed Clinical Counselor working in the field and helping as many people as I can.
 
Let’s hope tomorrow is at least fun 🙂

Be Seen, Be Heard

“Everyone wants to be seen. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be recognized as the person that they are and not a stereotype or an image.” –  Loretta Lynch

It hurt, it was difficult, but it was necessary. As much as I wanted to keep myself covered up and avoid being seen or heard, I knew that doing so would result in just that. My heart was broken and I was not going to just swallow it and let it settle in my stomach. I’d had to break promises I’d made to my daughter, and that cold feeling had spread across my soul. More than anything I never want to have to let my children down, and that’s the reality I was facing.

So, naturally, I went to Facebook to rant. My normal rantings were about politics, movies, food, and sarcastic memes. Yesterday, though, I put some personal shit out into the universe because I honestly felt so full up that I wasn’t able to keep it to myself anymore. Under normal circumstances I’d just bottle every little nuance up and tuck it away for a day I could overthink it. It’s such a natural reaction I had to actually force myself to pay closer attention yesterday and own that I was doing “it” again.

The thing about being seen and heard is that you put yourself in a position where you’re admitting weakness. For someone like me who had no choice but to put myself in a position where I was never allowed to show any sort of weakness it’s a spot that I’m totally unfamiliar with. It was scary. There, I said it. I was scared. I had no idea how the people in my life would react to seeing me be, well, basically, naked. Like, in that nightmare when you walk into class and everyone’s laughing because you’re in your underwear.

What’s good about being seen? The people in your life are given the chance to actually offer you help. Why is that important? Because when you always give off the “I can handle it on my own,” vibe people never get to show you they care about you without feeling weird about it. How does someone help you when you are always closed off and the door is closed? It’s a difficult step, to be sure, but the upside of showing your skin a little makes you come across more human and approachable.

More than anything I want to take the steps to be a better me, and one of the biggest steps towards that goal was this: strip away all that pride and hard-headedness and let the people in my life know that I was truly struggling with an issue and that if they could help me it would be the greatest thing ever.

The most beautiful part of this situation was how the people in my life reacted. I was so unsure of myself and putting my business out into the universe that I could never have guessed my tribe would show up so hardcore. The offers of help I was given were more than I could have ever asked for, and it came in so many different versions. Without going into specifics I can say that I have never felt so cared about by the people in my life. I shouldn’t be shocked by the outpouring of help, I really shouldn’t.

This is why I say people should be seen and heard; it feels good on every level. There is nothing better than having to worry less about an issue because your tribe knew you had a need and they came to your side and said, “Here,” and from each person, it meant something different. People like to help, people want to know that when you needed them they were there. It’s an amazing feeling to offer aid to a loved one and know that you made their life better. Normally, this is my position so I can vouch for this. I love helping, and if I know there’s something I can do I just do it, I don’t even ask: I’m that asshole.

It’s a comforting feeling knowing I have friendships from thirty years ago, twenty years ago, and last year that all can show up when I need them. Nothing stopped people from coming to me and asking what they could do, how they could help, or what they could offer. To me, that’s the most magical and special part of having a tribe of people connected by friendship. The mush factor is high with this one, but I feel like it needs to be said. I’ve had people in my life for so long now that I haven’t even seen in years, but the moment I mention I need help, they’re right there.

It’s a beautiful thing, and I just hope I can repay the kindness I was shown this week in some way ❤

My Finance & Failure

“What a man dares to do, he should dare to confess- unless he is a coward.”
― Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

I’m going to make it a point to focus on “I” statements. Not because I’m trying to actively attack myself, but because coming to terms with my own issues will not be resolved by trying to deflect or lay blame on another person. I struggle with anxiety more than I realize, and today was a damn near Trojan War experience of awakening and coming to terms with what is clearly my most challenging trigger.

Finances. Money. Cash. In any form.

So much rides on money; stability, security, preparedness.

From an early age, I was conditioned that money was equal to freedom. My mother was financially secure because she always had a full-time job. Since my stepfather(s) could not match her in pay or stability it was all leveled on her shoulders. All the decisions and choices were hers to make because she was the one who had the money.

When I was 15 I began working a regular cashier job at a local grocery and quickly learned that since I was making my own money my mother basically saw it as I’m grown, so I can now cover any and all of my own bills. So, from the beginning, I was conditioned to see finances and money as nothing more than a means of abuse.

Three months after I graduated High School I was told I was to leave my house. My mother and stepfather basically saw me as a threat and no longer felt they should provide me with the essentials of survival. With this realization, it became very clear that college was out of the question, and survival mode was now activated. When I first moved out it was nothing but constant struggle. I wasn’t making enough at Warner Bros. as a gallery supervisor to afford the studio apartment I’d been forced to live in, and when that reality set in my mother was forced to help me once or twice.

Fast forward to me at 23; I had moved numerous times due to roommate issues, finally owned my own car in my name, was an Assistant Manager at PacSun making decent money, had a one-bedroom apartment, and was reliant on no one, mainly because there was no one I could be reliant on. Survival mode was still very much active. I worked two jobs during the holidays to make sure I was never without the essentials, but that’s exactly what it was: I was ensuring I had the essentials.

Another time spiral forward brings me to today. Nothing about my view of finances has changed. Not a goddamn thing in my head has changed. If nothing else, I have more anxiety about finances now because now have children who rely on my husband and me. It’s an ongoing pressure that has intensified in the past couple of months because of lost pay, lost opportunities, and a need to pay the mortgage.

Today it’s my obligation to admit a dingy, dirty, truth about myself that I normally beat down and attempt to ignore:

Finances are my greatest source of anxiety and weakest fail point.

This truth about myself is what makes me a weak partner in a marriage. I’d damn near say this flaw about my personality is base enough for a man to feel I was so weak as an adult that divorce would be considered. The debilitating abyss of fear and dread that swarms me when finances are being discussed makes me feel so inferior in a partnership that I have told Charlie on numerous occasions that I just don’t want to even discuss money. Mainly for the reason that I didn’t like being made to feel weak because of the fact, I have never, and I mean never, had a positive financial experience to work from.

I made a mistake yesterday and because of it, I could barely even look my kids in the eyes all day today. Any strife we suffer this week is due to me, and my inability to even remotely function when/if finances are involved. I had gotten so used to having Charlie warn me that “whatever is in the account is all we have,” that I didn’t’ think to question my motivation. It’s not his job to hold my hand and talk pretty to me about our financial situation just so I don’t get triggered and have an anxiety attack like I did today. I should be able to function as a fucking adult and go into our account and look to see what I have to work with.

I should be able to … 

Emphasis on the “should be able to” part of that because it’s the truth. If a marriage is a team effort, and I can’t carry my weight for the team, then I’m the weakest link, and that’s exactly how I feel today. This has been the first time I’ve actually felt depressed about an issue I’m trying to work through. I think because this is the big one, the one I knew would come up sooner or later, and the one I try hardest to avoid. Nothing puts me into a panic quicker than money talk.

If I’m being transparent and real with myself I can admit that I’m unprepared to really deal with the issues we’re facing as a family with our finances right now. Charlie is the logical one who can and wants to have the hard discussions about money. I’m the one who wants to just be told exactly what I have to work with and then I can figure out the rest on my own. I don’t want to be included because this is where I have no power. As much as we want to say a husband and wife need to work together concerning money the reality is if one of the partnership isn’t contributing, then there’s a rift that opens.

As the person who isn’t contributing monetarily (as much as I’ve tried recently), I have no pull in the conversation about money. I can sit here all day and talk about how it shouldn’t be that way and how unfair it is to the spouse who doesn’t work, but let’s just keep this shit real and put it out there: money makers have pull. I am basically at the whim of the money that shows up in the account, and then I have to apply that to two kids, a dog, and a house. To say my anxiety is peaked literally all the time (even when our finances are better than they are now) would be the understatement of the century. It’s ongoing, it never stops. I never get a break from the constant, underscored, vibe of financial worry.

Since I’m focusing on “I” statements, let me also say that I’m fully aware of the burden Charlie faces as well. I’m not immune to the fact he struggles with having to be on the road, working non-stop, and then when we have bad months it all comes tumbling down. I carry the guilt and shame on my shoulders every single day that my husband has to be out on the road just to provide us with the essentials. I’m not trying to downplay any of his struggles by focusing so much on my own.

Truth be told I am such a hot mess when it comes to this element of our life I’m surprised he even puts up with me anymore. He told me he was angry with me today, and I do not blame him. I was so angry with myself I made myself sick. The anxiety attack that followed our very brief exchange of messages was enough of a reminder that this is my full stop issue. There was no excuse I made up or deflection I even bothered with this time. I just sloped my shoulders and let it all engulf me. I’d made a mistake and now I was going to have to figure it out the best way I could. I’m a shit human in this area, and I should at least admit that for Charlie’s sake. My inability to handle this component of our marriage is a source of resentment and bitterness, probably on both our parts. Understanding is not a luxury I can expect when it’s such a serious issue.

The only thing I can think to do now is to try and get a part-time gig. Anything is better than nothing at this point. I can’t be certain how I’ll function or handle working for the first time with kids and worrying about them, but I’ll be swapping one source of anxiety for another in the hopes that at least the latter will be helpful.

Should probably mention this issue at my next counseling session too.

Dusk on an almost full moon

“The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Today was the beginning step.

I arrived at my first counseling session and waited.

When she came in to get me I hastily made my way back to her office.

She sat, I sat, and the questions began. The rest is a rushed blur, but I’ll try to recall it.

That nominal first question: What brings you in?

More than anything I hate being asked questions. I don’t like having my inner thoughts pulled from me and placed on a platter in front of me to be judged. It feels like a violation, and under normal circumstances, this line of questioning would put my defensive mechanisms on alert. I’d mentally assess the purpose and reason for the question, and I’d overthink why someone would want to know this about me.

Today, however, I accept this question and sit for a quiet moment to gather my thoughts and begin to lay out how I intend to answer her. I ignore my first reaction of defense and move quickly to acceptance. I didn’t show up at my appointment today to throw up my shields and armor. I showed up today to open the floodgates and let whatever was going to come rushing out be seen.

I explain that I’m not there to discuss my “mommy issues,” because I’d already come to terms with the sardonic history I share with my mother. I’m good with it. I’m also not there to discuss my grim childhood memories of domestic violence and the questionable parenting I was subjected to. None of that is the real reason I’m sitting on the couch across from her laying out my current challenges.

Now, that’s not to say that I can just avoid those topics. My C-PTSD issues stem directly from all that I endured, and while I’ve come to terms with the fact these incidents occurred, the consequences of the defense mechanisms I had to learn are what’s hindering me at the moment. So, did I mention them? Absolutely. Admittedly, they’re not why I’m there.

Once I get into the discussion and I begin to lay the footstones of how I want this secret garden to be viewed, and she can see a more clear version of what it is I’m trying to share with her, she begins to discuss my struggles in more detail. I’m not just focused, I’m hyper-focused. What does that translate as? It’s sort of like opening a can of soda. You put your finger into the tab, you pull the tab up and hear that satisfying pop sound of the can opening, then without warning, there are 100 other cans that open at the same time and they have all been shaken so that they explode over everything.

That’s hyper-focused.

Not only is it as scary as it sounds, but it’s also completely debilitating. It’s why I can lose weight over the course of four or five months, then one day I’m just exhausted and don’t ever want to hear about losing weight again. Or, on a larger scale, it’s why I currently have four ongoing painting projects in my house. They’ve each been started and progressed, but the idea of trying to restart them to finish is overwhelming and daunting on a level that I can barely even discuss it. When I was trying to put it into words with my counselor today I began to cry because I have never been able to put it into words until today.

I spoke to her about how my anxiety was alive and well and had a mind of its own. She acknowledged my struggle and confirmed that my C-PTSD would be a parent issue that would spawn off-spring problems, like; anxiety, hyper-vigilance, hyper-focus, defensive posture, cognitive processing issues, and compulsive over-thinking.

I can sit here all night and talk about the ins and outs of what she and I talked about, but the real meaningful moment that occurred during my first counseling appointment happened when we started discussing how I should be handling this unveiling of on-going issues. How do I handle the fact I feel adrift in an ocean I don’t know the name of? What do I do when I need to find land and can’t get back to the sand? I’m already having coping issues, and that’s after I’ve made myself overtly self-aware.

Her words: You cannot help being this way. You had to survive.

To her, anyone who knows my story should be able to see why dropping my defensive measures in favor of the person I coulda/shoulda/woulda been is necessary now. I don’t need these elements of my personality. I don’t have to rely on these ninja traits to get me through a day. They lay dormant in a body that no longer needs to be protected. The person I had to be is not the same person I strive to be, and these conflicting elements are at odds at the present moment. I cannot help being this way, I had to survive.

Now, I have to learn how to live.