Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


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.



CK has been even less enthused about food than usual, it’s the anxiety. That’s really the catch all answer to most things. It’s the anxiety. Oregon has a lot of extra uncertainty because we’re even more screwed in the testing department.

In response, I made an effort today to get a few more groceries before the expected “shelters in place” order. The pickup order didn’t go smoothly, I was late for a virtual tea. I saw a dear friend at the store and we had to be distant. Then I discovered the thing I tried to get CK in the pickup order wasn’t quite followed.

A student left a voicemail when I was in the store asking me to call back. I realized I was afraid of hearing someone had died. Realizing that is what is very likely coming for each of us; hearing terrible need of loss.

I found out that MSCC is closed until April 28, at the earliest. I’ll be paid the hours I should have worked through April 1, then I’ll be laid off, making me eligible for unemployment. I shouldn’t be surprised if it extends, possibly to June.

It all left me feeling rather down.

Then I called the student back. All is mostly well. It’s been a week since Yoga in Chairs, she and her husband are missing it and can’t remember the movements we do. Her husband began attending this winter after a stroke and the class has really supported his recovery.

A week without class is starting to show. Although he’s still physically stronger, but his other healing isn’t doing s as well. The many neuro-protective exercises I add to the class have been a big boost. It wasn’t until the classes abruptly stopped that they realized just how much I’m helping!

I reassured her that online classes were coming and I do online sessions if they want to come up with a sequence just for them. When she apologized for being so overwhelmed sounding I reminded her that we’re living in unprecedented times, overwhelm is part of the scenery here.

I am feeling proud of my work. I’m feeling despair that the only answer to this pandemic is to isolate. I miss my students.



I’m closer to online yoga and I connected via email with students today. I’m feeling sad without the connection to my students and the staff at MSCC.

I’m anxious, but I think it’s reasonable. We’re living in frightening times, my anxiety is shared widely.

I found myself getting anxious at the computer this afternoon. I finally made myself stop and I went outside with the dogs. I cleared out two raised beds, not even waiting to find my gloves.

Digging my hands into the earth and smelling the freshness of the dirt, the sharpness of the weedy cress that’s invading, helped me at least feel as though my sad, anxious energy is moving again. I just focused on the movement of my hands and thought about carrots, radishes, and fresh greens.


Celebrating & Mourning Resilience

This whole pandemic thing is making my anxiety unhappy. I’m really grateful for dogs, they bring joy to us every day. It wasn’t an easy day and I was extra happy to hang out in the sunshine in our yard with them this afternoon.

I've worked so hard the past several years to get my nervous system out of the state were I can'tsleep because I'm sure it isn't safe. My hypervigilance is flared up, telling me that it has been right all this time, the world isn’t safe!

I went to therapy in person. SAFE/EMDR cannot be done remotely. It really isn't safe. While therapists ate being encouraged to use an online tool, they are allowed to make exceptions for folks who have “complex cases”.

Like mine. Yay, I’m Complex. I get to keep working on my trauma history that drowns me in shame, especially where it interacts with money. I’m really relieved I have this option even if it is a mixed bag.

I’m so angry. I’ve spent the past five years reinventing and healing myself after tech burnout/Mom breakdown. I was just getting going and now I’m stopped. I got our yoga room more organized today so I can start doing online classes. More reinventing. It isn’t wasted, but it is exhausting and sad.

My therapist was thrilled to hear that I had already asked CK to help me out with my sudden loss of job. I’m already aware how much teaching helps me manage my mental health.

We worked a little on the current memory. It revealed some details that left me celebrating how resilient I was, and am. How I found my own ways to soothe myself, I had to since my Mother was unable to set an example of this. I began finding creative ways to isolate and soothe from my terrifying family at such a young age.

I was such a bad ass, compassionate, peaceful little kid.

I’m integrating the rage I feel because I had to become that kid. I love her and I’m amazed at her, again and again. Between my family and the 70s/80s, no one was looking out for her.


So it Goes

Today has been harder.

Anxious Brain got all wound up seeing peers already offering online classes, on top of the anxiety of these terrifying times. I'm making a space that will work well, which brings up shame for having any chaotic stress in the house at all, which brings up worries about money with everything shutting down, which brings up money shame, which makes Anxiety Brain certain I'm Not Doing Enough!

That’s my Tuesday. This is the state of Anxiety Brain and there’s very little reasoning with it, just have to soothe and wait it out. It is just whether it’s at today despite recording 2 videos, creating, and scheduling a newsletter yesterday, doing several chores, and figuring out how to move prescriptions to the mail-order pharmacy today. Despite several emails from students grateful for my newsletter.

Anxiety Brain is a jerk, mostly.

I contemplated takeout and was overcome with fear of sick people being obliged to make because they don't have healthcare and capitalism is built upon misery.

So we've learned that fear might be the best motivator for not getting takeout in favor of cooking the food you already have in there house.

In good news: my wife loves having me home to play Magic with her at lunchtime, plus my making lunch. I’ve received really touching messages from people who are missing me teaching as much as I am!