Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Self Taught

Trauma Therapy Tuesday; it was productive and sad. Strange seeing all the shops closed, especially as I’d been processing how utterly alone I felt at age 4. Deeply melancholy.

In a family with intergenerational trauma, everyone had poor, to dangerous, soothing skills. I somehow, at 4, figured out how to soothe myself. I figured how to keep myself safe in a family that didn’t value me.

I’m appreciating what an amazing child I was. I was a badass.

I’m also sure that I would have learned to be the person I am without being terrorized. I’m both really proud and amazed by my child self while also being deeply angry that I needed to be a self-taught badass.


Ups and Downs

Had some unexpected, positive news today. Something that connects to the work I’ve been doing to promote my Aging into Vitality practice, an invitation to connect with a professional, medical group for “Lifestyle Medicine”!

I also had 14 people, at least, come to online chair yoga today! I upgraded to the pro account and we now have plenty of time for people to say hello and connect. I’m excited to get this all going despite being fixated about how I look on camera.

These things helped keep my mood up, and I’m so grateful as it is hard not to get down. Between thoughts of my Mother & family and watching the infection & death rates climb, it can feel heavy. After doing some cleaning I finally took a short nap with the dogs on the sofa, I can’t make it through most days without a nap.

Am I doing enough to protect us? Am I keeping well or collapsing? I worry about this most times I take a nap. What will the new normal be?


Childhood Logic

A few years ago I read Arielle Schwartz's workbook on healing Complex PTSD (recommended). I posted several quotes from it onto Tumblr and often they get reblogged. This one was over the weekend and, not surprisingly it’s been connecting with the current trauma memory I’m working on integrating.

"Self-blame is a direct link to childhood logic -- children will develop a fantasy that they are bad kids relying upon good parents to avoid confronting the terrifying reality that they are good kids relying upon bad parents."

I have a belief that I am so fundamentally damaged and toxic that I really should be alone. Prolonged exposure to me is dangerous.

This doesn’t really align with reality, but that’s why my trauma is Complex.

It’s what happened. Through abuse of all kinds, telling me repeatedly literally and metaphorically, that I was terrible, ungrateful, and deserved to be treated horribly.

I had bad parents. The one that was present was so damaged from her horrible Mother she was unable to soothe herself, had terrible boundaries, and lacked empathy. She terrified me so often, so young, that I didn’t dare do more than back talk and even that only mildly, as I grew older.

All of this gets tied right into shame around money. Which is coming up, right on time, as students send me money for online teaching! People giving me money, as opposed to a paycheck or transaction for an appoint, really trips me up. I get hit with shame and unworthiness.

This would be why I’m both glad I still get to go to therapy in-person, so long as I’m not feverish, and sad. I’m glad because I’m struggling and sad because it’s a reminder that my childhood was profoundly fucked up.


Little Things

CK fixed the kitty light she gave me for Christmas. It was supposed to be rechargeable, but it didn’t work right. She took it apart and figured out how to make it run off a camera battery. It lasts for a couple of months of use in the Yoga room at night.

Two weeks of isolation is working so far. We’re both well and still getting along. I’m down and anxious, but not collapsing. Slow, steady, and physically distant wins the race?

My back pain has been higher today. I think part of it is anxiety. Part of it might well playing around with different yoga movement and gardening.

I connected with friends and made art today. I played video games, reminding myself that I enjoy the Switch. I made a satisfying meal despite really not wanting to cook.

This is how we endure.


Global Trauma

Today I saw someone sharing a reminder online that this pandemic is exciting everyone’s stress response system, our friend the Sympathetic Nervous System. There isn’t anyone to fight, although racism is certainly trying to make it true. We cannot flee a virus.

Collapse, or “Freeze”, is the third stage of this system. Play opossum until the threat gets bored and moves on. This is why we’re exhausted.

The author noted that folks with Complex Trauma are worse off. We already have to convince ourselves we’re OK, but now it really isn’t safe.

Hence my nearly daily naps. I’m trying not to resent them. They keep me able to stay well and keep us well, keep me from collapsing under a blanket in years. Naps after facing the pharmacy and being at Freddie’s age also just fine!


Always Tired

There thing about dread is that it's exhausting.

We worry about our plan if one of us gets sick, how to quarantine in the house to keep the other one safe. Can the sick person see the cats and dogs, would the virus be spread via fur?

Tonight we worried about what would happen if we were both hospitalized. Who needs keys to the house? Who takes the dogs, cares for the cats?

A theologian I follow online posted about writing everything down, in case the worst happens. I thought of Igal, how he wrote everything down but never notarized it so his last wishes were largely ignored.

Then I worried annoy our undone wills. What would happen if we both die?

My mood was better today,despite the worry factory working overtime, but I still couldn’t muster up the energy to do more. It’s taking so much effort to not collapse under the worries, to focus on feeding us meals, get prescriptions filled, order groceries, and keep us going. Instead of another chore I napped with kitties.

These tiny plants already coming up only two days after CK started them brought us both joy today!


Highs and Lows

I held a Yoga in Chairs today and 14 people came! The online teaching thing is working! This filled me with energy and gratitude!

By bedtime the weight of the rising infection and death rates rising, set against the backdrop of politicians demanding that we get back to work, siphoned off the morning’s energy and took more on top of that.

I felt exhausted all afternoon. Lunch depleted me. I made the effort to make up a slightly different version of tofu salad and didn’t enjoy it. Food felt hard today.

A student got hit by a fraud attack, falling for a PayPal-themed social engineering after paying me online. People can be so terrible.

I finished making a card for a kid who just had her birthday Monday and was really bummed put that everything got cancelled. That helped as I felt increasingly sad all day, I’ll mail it tomorrow, maybe along with another handmade postcard.


Online Teacher

Yesterday I tried a mini class and there were a lot of bumps. Today I did another one, four students came, and people paid me!!

I’ve felt so behind my peers getting to this point, needing to manage my anxiety and prioritize my family. I’m so grateful CK’s job is secure in all this crises; I didn’t have to scramble and could take a week to become an online teacher.

There’s still some fine tuning, better directions for my students, but I’m so grateful to be at this point! I’m getting yoga and community to people again.

The weirdness that comes up for me around financial success, that’s my normal and why I’m an exception for in-person therapy right now.


Victory Garden

We woke up early to go to the hardware store. There were a few bumps, but we got a seed starting station set up downstairs. We moved the old garage-based setup downstairs to the utility room. This puts it right of the veggie garden.

CK helped me get one big bed and a small bed ready to plant. We picked up just a few starts and put them into the beds today. Sugar Snap Peas, kale, collards, Walla Walla onions, and a full plant all went in before the rain comes in.

We're not the only people thinking of Victory Gardens this year, it is a reasonable activity to turn to at times such as the extraordinary ones we're in now. It is something we can do together, it gets us outside on the fresh air, and in the end we have fresh flowers and vegetables to enjoy ourselves and share.

All that and I’m ready to try a class tomorrow!


Some Days Are Like That

Today felt off. It was my day to feel down, unproductive, and useless. My anxiety was high and a nap in the afternoon didn’t help. In fact, I woke up more anxious and fretting about dinner.

This is the new normal. This strange new world of rising rates of infection and death. Monitoring for fever. Seclusion for safety.

Almost daily I’ve reflected how grateful I am my Mother’s dead. I remember her fighting me about washing her hands, snidely calling me, “Howard Hughes” and accusing me of being a germphobe. I literally shudder to even consider trying to get her to step it up more!

We got more of the beds cleared and have planned an early trip to the hardware store. Our apathy about the garden has been cast off. Creating a victory garden is something we can enjoy together.