Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

20Oct/200

Voting and Other Acts of Self Care

Smoke cleared and just as my allergies recovered from that, Autumn arrived with its associated increase in mold allergens and all the tress are dropping leaves. I've had something of a permanent headache for several days to go with my increased sneezing.

Despite being exhausted, I've not been getting to be until nearly 1am most nights. I developed night owl tendencies in early childhood and they reassert dominance in my life pretty quickly and I've never been able to become an "early bird" kind of person.

I feel conflicted about napping during the day. The small, more legitimate concern, is that I'll throw off my ability to go to sleep later. The inaccurate, but larger worry is that I'm not getting enough done.

There's a long list of yard things that need doing. There's a long list of home repairs. There's the task of sorting and reducing stuff. There's paperwork to follow up on. There's stuff to mail out. There's day-to-day chores to keep the house pleasant. There's overdue chores we can't quite seem to get to.

All of that hangs there and I feel like I'm a terrible person for needing so much rest. Then it all burbles up at 2300 and I try to think of how many chores I can get done before my brain allows me to go to bed.

Which is why I finally took a nap for much of the afternoon. My headache felt better. The feeling of crushing dread was slightly reduced by laying under the weighted blanket for a couple of hours. I made us school lunch dinner with salads and homemade lemon tahini salad dressing, that was the fancy bit.

This meant I had the energy to sit down with CK tonight and vote. I love that we really sit down together and raise questions together, go read things and make sure we understand them together. She's even been making an estimate on the potential financial impact of any property tax related measures. I'll go drop them off in person tomorrow, despite it being early enough to mail them in.

14Oct/200

More Mindfulness, Less Vigilance

A student and friend said something in this morning's yoga class that is so perfect! I felt grateful to receive this teaching from my student and at the same time proud that my own teaching to her comes through this way!

We were talking about the anxiety of everyday living now with COVID and the election looming in 3 weeks. I suggested there was a yoga tool, starting with an "m", that helps when I'm anxious.

Mindfulness was quickly hit upon. This is when my student talked about the energy of vigilance, how we have to be vigilant all the time now and it's exhausting. She went on to say that mindfulness is less exhausting, energetically speaking, and she was going to strive to be less vigilant and work on staying mindful instead.

What a gift! It certainly gave me an extra boost of energy to go to therapy today. CK's homemade chai with freshly foamed milk also was a good treat to have with me.

I shared the incidents while shopping. We talked through why it's coming up; it's the next memory to get integrated, times are really anxiety inducing right now, the pressure of my glasses and the mask loops on the ears, while slight and have been fine until now, might be just overloading my ability to ignore it. We talked through how to manage it; #1 don't assume it will happen every time as that will make it more likely to happen, go to stores with a clear plan in and out, stick with the plan, try other styles of masks, considering having my glasses adjusted (my optometry place is awesome and they know I have a trauma history so needing an adjustment because my glasses are triggering, they'll be down with fixing!).

I'm also continuing to meet that 6-nearly-7-year-old energy with assurances that I'm paying attention and I'm coming for her.

I made more progress integrating the memory from age 5. I'm able to witness it now, rather than be caught in it. I also gained some insight into how resilient I was, still am, but I'm amazed that the tools I'd figured out by age 5 to keep myself safe.

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12Oct/200

Civil Discourse

I returned to Costco today for another weighted blanket for CK, one for a friend, and a new electric blanket for the bed. I had the same head pain and feeling anxious. I wore a slightly less heavy mask, but it was still there. I think my glasses mildly contribute to the sensation, where the ear pieces press.

I joined the podcast discussion group where I made dinner and had an outburst over someone using the phrase "civil discourse".

I feel like it's a tool of white supremacy, at worst, and tone policing at best. Who defines "civil"? I noted that there's some topics that there's no "agree to disagree", which is a hallmark of a civil discourse.

Then I spent the rest of the night feeling bad about it. And cleaned the kitchen.

10Oct/200

Misdirected Anger

I’ve struggled the past few days with my Inner Jerk, “Whinnie” is my pet name for her. This particular mind projection is hyper-critical of anything I try to do. It also is certain I need to do it all. I’m never able to do enough to satisfy this energy and what I do accomplish is either barely acceptable, at best, or so terrible I should feel ashamed.

Then I feel like I can’t do anything and, at the same time, I need to do everything.

It’s so tedious. Self-directed anger is a short trip into depression, so I’m trying to work through it.

Today wasn’t helped by spilling the dogs’ supplement all over, into the fridge to start my day! This made me late starting my class. I also hurt my thumb on my right hand trying to play with Bertie. Obie was extra demanding about food all day and broke a jar of salad dressing is made for dinner!

All of this just felt so defeating, waking up the feeling like I failed yesterday because I couldn’t get the takeout I’d planned for.

It occurred to me, when CK was asking how to help get me out of this really negative feedback loop, that I'm feeling rather about the world again. Still.

I don't feel like there's anything I can do to help the world. Turning the rather inward gives the illusion that I have the power to fix the rage. I'm in control!!

Except, I'm so not! "Whinnie" is driving me with this energy, "You must do everything! Why are you so terrible?! You can't do anything!"

I made a comic today and will add it later. It's downstairs and I'm trying to get to bedtime yoga. I was finishing it up when Obie broke the jar, so I didn't photograph it.

I'm adding a kitten placeholder photo from yesterday.

"Whinnie" thinks I'm really lazy for not going downstairs to take the picture of my comic. Sure thought the comic sucked too. She also thinks I'm bad at yoga and my Practice is lacking.

"Why do I sleep when I need to do more?!", she asks.

Here's that kitten again since I fixed the comic!

Ursa Minor, a kitten a friend is fostering.
8Oct/200

Memories Are Triggered

I went to Costco today with my list and a few list items for friends. More and more I'm trying to reach out to see what people will need. I want to see everyone well stocked before the election and, honestly, the days between the November election and the January inauguration. I believe they might well be fraught with unrest and potential interruptions.

Shopping isn't easy or fun anymore. Costco always was something I had to gear up for. It doesn't overwhelm me, but it is stressful. We've been moving more things to pickup or delivery to reduce my stress. As far as feeling more secure, Costco has set a strong tone all along about adherence to masks, distancing, etc.

Still, as I made my way through the store, I felt this terrible tension building in my head, jaw, and neck. It soon began feeling like I'd been forcing myself to smile too hard, for too long. I started to wonder if I'd tightened the ear loops of the mask too far or the metal bridge of the nose too tightly. My glasses felt like they were digging into my face and skull! It hurt all along the under edge of my jaw and down my throat, wrapping around my neck.

My heart was pounding in response and it felt hard to breathe. I had intentionally chosen a heavier mask to be inside of a store for a while, but one I've worn before without a problem. It finally struck me that I was having some kind of anxiety attack!

Around this time I spotted the weighted blankets on display, something they had the previous year but had sold out of them by the time I went back. I grabbed one and added it to the heavy cart. I also bought a thermal, long-sleeved shirt!

All the while I just told myself, "It's just anxiety, nothing is actually wrong even though it is hurting. Breathe. Just wrap up what you're doing and get home."

I wanted to scream while ripping off the mask and my glasses.

"Just get to the car, then you can pull it off. Just a little longer."

I nearly was crying by the time I got to the car and loaded it up with the mask still on. I managed to get in and get it off. I set my glasses on the seat next to me and took deep breaths while rubbing my jaw and neck.

There's an interlude I'm recording below the content warning, do not ever feel the need to read these. I'm writing them more for my own processing and healing.

Once I felt settled enough to make the mercifully short trip home I set off. I wondered if I could just leave everything but the weighted blanket and go crawl under it. By the time I got to the house I could process some of the stuff I'd bought. I remembered there was one thing requiring refrigeration!

Then I crawled under the weighted blanket and Bertie came to lay with me. I reminded my child self that I was coming on a "rescue mission" to release her from those memories, which was soothing to the trauma energy. I was able to half nap with Bertie until CK got done working. We figured out a really easy dinner for me to make each of us and had a night that helped me feel reconnected.

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

As I sat there settling down to drive home, I felt this sickening lurch of energy move almost sideways through me. I realized I had been experiencing a somatic flashback from age 6, the memory of being orally raped by my Mother's boyfriend. The incident was stopped by my having an asthma attack.

All the pain along my jaw and throat, this act. The back of the neck and head pain; his hand forcing my head to stay in place.

I couldn't breathe. He suffocated me in this act. I thought I was dying.

This is the next memory I'll get to in my trauma therapy. Today feels like a proximity alarm just went off. I've never had such a clear recollection of this horrible memory before today.

29Sep/200

Worth Keeping Safe

Trauma Therapy Tuesday today. Skipped last session on account of the smoke. In person sessions are contingent upon the windows being open in my therapist's space. I realized that if she hadn't moved to this space, with windows all along the north side, I wouldn't be able to continue seeing her!

I don't like this work. It is sad and difficult to repeatedly confront instances from each year of my childhood where I felt worthless. At age 5 I felt so worthless that I didn't think I was important enough to be kept safe. This was the only explanation as to why my Mother left me with a violent caregiver that made sense my my brain.

Worthless.

That's the message again and again. Eventually it winds itself around the belief that I myself am just toxic, that's why people must leave.

The message I want to believe about myself at age 5 is that I'm valuable. I'm worth keeping safe.

It hit me during the processing today that CK setting things into motion for us to move is this huge, tangible demonstration of how valuable she finds me. I, we are so important that she's prepared to move us far away so we'll be safe. So if something happens to her I don't lose all my healthcare and support.

No one has ever done that for me before.

22Sep/200

Bodily Autonomy & Flu Shots

I went out to get my required flu shot today. All volunteers for the hospice I work with are required to have one annually. They even hold a clinic and give them free

It was lousy. The nurse giving them was insistent that they had to be given very high on the deltoid. I told her I knew from experience it would be painful. My shoulders are pretty tender.

When I involuntarily hissed out my breath she asked if it hurt. I confirmed that it did, butt she should just continue, finish the injection.

Instead she pulled out the needle, I loudly asked, "Why did you do that?! What are you doing?! I said to just finish!"

She injected again, slightly lower. I got through that she needed to just finish, thankfully she did!

She was kind and apologetic, but it didn't make up for her ignoring my request to just finish the first time. I told her as much as I left, noting I should not have been put through that.

I wrote to complain, which made me feel terrible. I'm expensively trained, but I've never been assigned to a patient. I picked up my badge as the State began the shelter in place order. I felt bad, ashamed, for complaining about my free shot.

The volunteer coordinator reminded me I'm valued. They thanked me for the feedback, it will be passed on. They shared that the nurse wasn't a in house staff member, but from an agency hired to do the clinic, who has better training in listening.

That and the world today has me feeling blue tonight. I made tortilla soup tonight from scratch, the first homemade food I've made in days. It was just right!

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2Sep/200

So Much Grief

My memory of feeling worthless, not valued enough to be kept safe, is different in that it doesn’t directly involve my Mother. Instead it involves witnessing the caregiver I was left with abusing her children. I was accustomed to physical abuse within my family and was terrified this woman would come after n me next.

Something about this particular memory awakens profound grief. Combined with all the grief I feel about COVID, businesses I love closing, Black Lives Protestors being continually brutalized by police, the corrupt GOP, and our cat having cancer.

It leaves me feeling so tender, with tears right at the surface. This is a state I find painfully vulnerable, I do not have a friendly relationship with tears, still. It says something that I’m able to say that rather than “I hate crying”!

I said to students Tuesday that grief is so big at times, but e we keep working with it until it’s like a small, precious stone we set on the altar. We ultimately each create our internal Room of Grief where each precious stone lives.

I like this, I want to write more about it, but this beginning bit, when it’s all so much at once and so big, how to hold space for that? That’s the part I want to be better at.

25Aug/200

Violences of All Kinds

I woke up in the early morning hours and was just getting back to sleep when CK, who had sat up in bed, said aloud, "Justin Townes Earle is dead."

We both have this memory of introducing each other to the music of Justin Townes Earle, who she got into, and Steve Earle, who I was into, as part of our courtship. It was probably a few years into our relationship she realized later, looking at the dates of JTE's releases.

This news set a gray tone over the day. CK noted that for whatever reason, this celebrity death was hitting her hard. I thought a lot about intergenerational trauma and how it robs people of their ability to feel connected. I thought about TJ, how close in age we were and how he didn't make it out. I'm so grateful for the ways I found to cultivate resiliency, I managed to avoid the addictions that were modeled for me.

We have been worried about friends and family in California. Just as one fire near my mother-in-law was contained another has started. I'm grateful our fire season has been so mild so far.

Today I heard that a member of the soccer patch community I belonged to was assaulted by cops last night, awoke in an ambulance and is now home covered in bruises and with a concussion. Part of me is surprised it has taken this long for someone I know to experience police brutality during the uprisings here. I'm grateful that it's taken so long and I'm also full of rage and grief at the state of the police.

Then another Black man shot in the back repeatedly by cops over the weekend. This time in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is about 90 minutes from where I went to college. The man lived, but is now paralyzed from the waist down. There are uprisings there and the more police violence as the response.

I keep thinking about a series of tweets from Black activist Brittany Packnett asking how many times do white people need to "bear witness" to the brutalization and murder of Black people, particularly by cops, before we do something about it. Postcards of lynchings date back to the 1880's, I didn't know about this until I was a young adult. I was so surprised, now I know better.

I'm glad I'm taking a break this weekend and glad I'm cutting down to 2 weekends a month, but I'm committed to holding space for the Yoga of Freedom classes. If people want to study with me on Saturdays it's going to come with a side of social justice. Getting more white people to talk about this without having to ask a Black person to unpack it for them is vital and is something I can keep doing.

It feels like so little, but I'm keeping in mind that this past Saturday a student in her early 70's shared that she'd always thought herself to be, "a gentle, kind person", but coming to the class has helped her see that she does have a lot of biases about race and how people look. She said it's been very eyeopening and is helping her realize that she's got work to do!

20Aug/200

Weepies

Another day that felt so hard. I'm sticking with therapy hangover and the ongoing stress of living in a pandemic managed by ghouls. This evening everything felt too sharp and made me start to cry.

I really dislike crying. Partially it's due to the fact that I was punished often for crying, for being too dramatic, and called a "cry baby". I was rewarded for masking my emotions and being as inscrutable as possible. This combination makes marriage hard and I've been really digging deep to unlearn these antipatterns, as CK calls them.

The other reason I really loathe crying is that it always turns my mucus production way up. As if my tear ducts sent out a signal to produce all the snot possible. This results in my having terrible sinus pain, complete with slight swelling.

So, it not only feels scary, vulnerable, and fraught with shame, it also physically is miserable. I've never been able to fully appreciate the experience of a "good cry", it never feels cathartic, it feels like I lost a battle and my head hurts.

I realized that I'm feeling a lot of grief about our tenth wedding anniversary next month. As much as I'm thinking of ideas to make it special at home, I'm really sad we can't safely go anywhere.

Home, with chores that never get done, feels like such a task I'm not equal to. I need so many naps and breaks to play video games, that there's never a sense of the house being done. Not even for an hour. Part of me just wants a couple of days away where everything's done and I don't have to see the never ending list of things to fix or clean. I want to not be awakened by Obie yowling at me, as much as his not doing it makes me worry.

I'm also feeling shameful about my grief. We have a beautiful home, a big yard which we're turning back into a secret garden oasis, and plenty of space that we both get solitude. Our financial needs are met thanks to CK's job. She loves her job and finds it very satisfying a year after being there. We, as we approach 10 years of marriage, are doing better than we have in years, the pandemic is good for us in many ways.

With so much positive happening, it feels wrong to be overwhelmed by grief because we can't go on a vacation next month.

I'm trying to do the thing where I approach my hurting, angry self as if it is a student who's having a lousy day. What would I say to that student, how would I remind them that some days we just feel all the grief.

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