Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

16Mar/200

Brave New World

Day one of teaching hiatus: I put too much on my to-do list, normal for me. Got the most important thing done, newsletter goes out tomorrow!

I had a video chat with a dear friend. We discussed how to take social distant walks together. The dogs making a barrier?

I texted many dear people to let them know I'm thinking of them.

Letting our Brave New World unfold. I'm so grateful my wife's a software engineer for a very stable company.

15Mar/200

Hunkering Down

Staying in all weekend isn’t that unusual for us. Tomorrow is when it starts to feel weird for me. CK gets back to remote work, but I’ve got nothing!

She helped me make a schedule for tomorrow. Trying to have some movement practice, chores, making a newsletter & video, and starting to make the Yoga Room be set up for video.

I made a chart for us to track temperature. While we don’t feel we’ve been exposed, I especially have been out around people. Considering staying put at least a week, then perhaps groceries and prescription meds.

What times we live in. Between time change and pandemic my sleep isn’t what it was!

My orchid from Grocery Outlet doesn’t care. It’s been in the process of making this first bloom since last year. This first flower is almost fully open.

14Mar/200

Withdrawing

The first day of not really going anywhere. We’re discussing a plan for monitoring for any sign of fever. Noting holes in my long stock up of long-storing food items.

I woke up early, needing to pee, and was surprised at the brightness of the room in the predawn. Then I noticed the snow.

I returned to my warm bed, in a house with a furnace programmed to come on when we rise and well stocked with food and medicines, and thought about the houseless women who sit just inside the community center I teach at. They keep not-quite warm, dry, and safe. There are toilets.

Yesterday the centers and libraries all closed. Warming shelters closed for the spring. Where did people go?

My Mother and I were briefly houseless when I was four after she was fired from her job. She blamed me for it. We went to live with my aunt and her two kids. My Mother also was in a car accident during this time which extended our time there.

It was a terrifying time in which I learned that no one in my family was on my side. None of the adults, therefore neither of my cousins by extension. I gained tremendous shame around money, a terror of being without a home, and a fear of “rocking the boat”.

This experience is one I’m currently integrating in therapy. I’m wondering if I’ll be going to my session on Tuesday. I don’t want to take a break, I want to keep taking care of it and getting past the way it undermines everything I think about money.

I’d meant to text more people and connect over teleconferencing with friends. Instead I tried not to fret too much, nor read a lot of news.

13Mar/200

Social Distancing

Today I told the students who came out to my two Friday classes that I wanted them to stay home, to restrict contact, and to avoid the community center. It broke my heart a little.

A few hours later Portland Parks & Rec announced that all community centers were closed through March 31st. At least.

I’m worried about the houseless citizens who use the center to shelter and shower.

I depend on teaching to keep my energy balanced!

I practiced bowing gassho to people today.

I ran the last errands. We’re staying low, hunkering down except for essentials like prescriptions.

Let's all learn how to better connect without getting closer than 3-6 feet from one another. I told students to use this time to learn how to use tech for connecting. I'm going to bed making good on my talk of practice videos and mighty even try to live stream.

What strange days.

12Mar/200

Nice Day for the Pandemic

School district’s closing up for 2+ weeks. Just told the community center director that I actively discouraging my students from coming tomorrow. I told them I’m taking at least a 2-week hiatus from teaching their, starting Monday.

90-95% of my students are over age 60. Some of the younger folks have chronic illnesses. I’m a fifty year old with lifelong asthma! My wife’s lungs are worse!

I’m going to get more videos up and might try to livestream content to students.

Strange times.

11Mar/200

Pandemic

No longer a thing of history books. We’re living in terrifying times and the load on my nervous system feels pretty heavy today.

I’m wondering justhow long I’ll keep teaching at the community center. On one hand, I support people getting out to move and be in community. These things usually support the immune system. My class numbers are dropping daily.

Oregon’s Governor just announced a 4-week ban on gatherings over 250 people. So much for soccer season kicking off. If the schools close the community centers will too.

We’re trying to stay present and not drop into anxiety. I’m limiting news even more than I already have been. We’re trying to get enough rest.

10Mar/200

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

I’ve been mildly anxious all day. No good reason, but sometimes it is like that. Residual energy waves following my Mother’s birthday last week. Ups of anxiety and lows of depression.

Mild, day-long anxiety is tedious, tiring, and taxes executive function. This means when I finally muster the energy to tackle unappealing chores, I go a bit heads down. Which means communication breakdowns.

When all that happens I pretty much feel like a failure. I can’t just “get over it”. That’s the Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, the inability to see something as a blip and instead agonize over it. Over and over and over it.

All that happens and then I feel down. Depression bites at my heels. It’s a lousy cycle and just exhausting.

The new meds are helping, but I’m looking forward to increasing the dose later this month. It is helping, but it feels like it isn’t quite there yet.

9Mar/200

The Gift of Comfort

I’m wearing a hoodie my wife gave me. She’s given me several over the years. When I’m feeling low one of her hoodies or one that she’s given me will help me feel comforted.

I was thinking the other day of my ex-husband, AP, who once took me on a shopping trip where he bought me a strapless party dress to wear out to an event he was taking me to. We had a polyamorous marriage and over the years I watched him repeat this act with other women. I recently saw a social media post that referenced that this is still something he does.

It was not a comfortable dress. It required a special bra and I was often worried about a “wardrobe malfunction”. I felt, as I was meant to, all dolled up. I made a great accessory, I was pleasant to look at and could decent conversation.

This felt so familiar. My Mother regularly dictated my clothing choices to me, either through manipulation or the financial control parents exert over children. When I’d display my own flair, she would copy me.

She had almost no boundaries and raised me to be afraid of establishing any with her.

I was folding hoodies on Sunday, putting away the laundry, and thinking of all the gifts she’s given me over the years. There’s been purely ornamental, decorative items, artwork, beautiful scarves, and jewelry. Many really clever, helpful, thoughtful tools and toys. Art supplies, even adding out to her wedding vows to keep me stocked! Many comforting, comfortable things, like hoodies.

Gifts of comfort, gifts to bolster me on hard days*, gifts to build up my creative side. The gift of supporting my non-lucrative second career. Gifts that demonstrate how much attention she gives my happiness.

Not gifts to turn me into a suitable ornament.

*The image is the gift she gave me this past Tuesday, after a tough session of trauma therapy. These are sleeves for our Magic cards, I like arty ones. This “Easter Dragon” is adorable!

8Mar/200

Just Write

I found myself anxious about forgetting to post yesterday. I thought about what I "should have" posted. I considered how WordPress lets me set the date, I could technically write two posts today and make it look like it was written over two days.

Then I remembered that this is my blog and I’m returning to it instead of putting so much stuff on social media. When I’m going to the time to thread tweets, it goes here. The content is mine and easy to return to, unlike my tweets.

For so many years I thought of myself as a writer. I’d get down on myself whenever I’d lose steam with a daily writing practice. I went right back to shaming myself for not writing this morning!

Art has become my daily creative practice. My day feels incomplete without creativity through art. On the other hand, yesterday I totally forgot about my goal to write some here every day. I made art twice, forgot to write.

After too much dithering, about “Doing it wrong!”, I finally was able to allow myself to just skip yesterday. I want to write more here than social media platforms, that’s the goal. I do not need my brain to add more pressure, that’s not the point.

6Mar/200

It’s the Trauma

My first foray into therapy was with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) provider who gave me my initial PTSD diagnosis. She had a lot of biases and a difficult time keeping them out of her sessions; our relationship ended traumatically because of this. She retired a few years ago and I’m honestly relieved she’s no longer practicing.

After a while I got stuck. CK ultimately steered me to someone who specialized in trauma therapy and used EMDR. The new therapist helped me start to understand what Complex Trauma is and why early childhood trauma needs different healing methods; CBT doesn’t help. We thankfully had a good relationship in place when I needed to end things with the CBT therapist.

I was in the midst of my yoga therapy training and internship when my trauma therapist retired. I was having weekly mentoring sessions with an Integrated Movement Therapist so I put off finding a replacement until I was through my program.

Since I’ve been able to embrace the label “Artist” for myself, I got a referral to an Art Therapist a friend sees. I really respect art therapy; I was working through some very painful stuff and using art let me access my memories and emotions in new ways.

When my anxiety was destabilizing life last year, a return to trauma therapy was presented. My therapist not only works in art therapy, but she offers Somatic Attachment-Focused EMDR (SAFE) for folks with trauma history. This approach helps people integrate events more completely.

While I have some understanding of the neuroscience of trauma, how brain development is affected, my therapist shows me how this plays out in my own brain. I’m appreciating how recognizing myself as mildly nuerodivergent explains many of the times I feel like a “broken robot” when trying to connect with other people.

While this is all great, the hardest part is continuing to unpack just how terrible my childhood was. Realizing where I’m still clinging to fantasies that my Mother wasn’t so bad, that I didn’t feel utterly alone even in, perhaps especially in, the middle of family gatherings.

Accepting that trauma changed my brain in ways that seem to leave me with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria means that my doctor and I are exploring a medication that stems to be lowering my anxiety. This is great!

The flip side: I’m integrating the fact that my childhood trauma was profound, that I was the only child of a deeply disturbed Mother who was incapable of self-soothing. I don’t recall more physical abuse from when I was older because she didn’t need to rely on it. She so throughly physically terrified me from ages 18 months to 8 years that she only had to reference it to get me to behave.

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