Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

13Aug/200

When We Speak Up

⚠️Content Warning: Child Abuse⚠️

I was afraid of my Mother. Trying to set boundaries or advocate for myself brought on physical violence. She'd get me alone and use a belt, wooden spoon, or hair brush on me until it hurt to pull clothing on over my body.

The phrase, "Don't rock the boat!", was used during the time we briefly lived with my Mother's sister when we were homeless. I was four at the time

I tried to stand up for myself over dinner one night. The next day she waited to get me alone.

That phrase became a way of shutting me down.

I was so shut down in my family. There's a way that white women shut down voices of dissent that feels so like the way my family silenced me.

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12Aug/200

Asking for Money

A task I am working at, so slowly, is getting a working budget together and keeping on top of the household checking account. This involves telling CK how much money to move over.

This doesn't sound at all like a big deal when I write it down. My brain thinks this is a very big deal. For the longest time I really couldn't ask, which put a lot of burden on CK to constantly have to figure out how much would cover things, on top of working a very mentally taxing job.

Today I planned to go to Costco to pick up some things, like paper products, we were starting to run low on after I'd gone in March. We also planned to invest in a Foodsaver, which they had on with a rebate deal. It was going to be an expensive trip, we planned for it.

Then I added up forthcoming bills, the money for the trip today, etc. I then texted CK the number I hoped would take us through the rest of the month.

All the while I kept feeling dread. There's all this somatic static when I'm doing these tasks. There's this fear that I'll be humiliated for needing money, for asking for too much, for being greedy.

It wasn't as hard this time after integrating the memories around being homeless at age 4 and shamed for it by my family. This is the subbasement, as it were, of shame around money for me. There have been incidents over the years that connect back to this wound, especially during my first marriage, but now that it's integrated I'm hoping all of those will loose their teeth.

It is getting easier each time I do this. CK responds with a quick, "ok", and I fret that it means she's irritated, but then she'll respond a few minutes later with a screenshot of the money moved. Later, when she's done working, she'll thank me for helping her stay on top of it.

I remind myself each time I do this again that we've had several iterations of the above routine. I ask, she responds that she got the ask, she does the transfer, and thanks me.

Eventually my Trauma Brain will trust that this is really how it works and will spare me the feeling of dread. Not quite yet though.

11Aug/200

Breakfast

I most often wake up a little nauseous. My pain level is higher on the morning and I'm often congested from allergies. This makes breakfast pretty undesirable.

By the time by body decides food is acceptable I usually needed to be commuting. I'm not really a morning person and have always found the, "just wake up earlier!", camp of people to be infuriating. My time going to retreats has taught me this doesn't actually help. I'm just nauseous for a longer time.

When I was commuting I'd have a protein bar. Pandemic days have found me struggling with food being unappetizing. Clif bars especially so.

Rather than find something new, I realized I was just fasting. I'd go 14-16 gifts without eating. I'd have tea with a lot of soy milk, butt that's it.

Given my somewhat disordered eating throughout my life, I've fallen back into restricting. My blood tests were playing into it too.

I'd just see all the things needing attention and start, ignoring my body because I'm very good at it.

When you grow up feeling like you're worthless, it's easy to ignore your own needs, your body's needs. When you're consistently praised for the shape of your body, that ignoring becomes a superpower.

8Aug/200

Short Term Disability

Five and a half years ago my Mother decided to blow up our life.

I'd stopped responding to abuse in the ways she'd trained me to. CK had seen through the mirage, catching my Mother being emotionally & verbally abusive to me.

I think it was the moment, as movers were trying to remove her things from our home, when we were informed her bed frame had bedbugs, that something just snapped. I was crying. CK was laughing.

The last straw fell in that moment and all my careful juggling and managing of my mental health over the years just stopped working.

In November 2014 I took what I thought was a month of Family Medical Leave. We were moving my Mother out of the house and I wanted to be free of the considerable distraction of my job, a job the often demanded 50-60 hours a work. Work often at night, weekends, on holidays, etc.

In December I was out on short-term disability. In February 2015 I wanted to extend it 6 months. Three members of my healthcare team, including my doctor, my PMHNP, and my trauma therapist, all were urging this. All, my doctor emphatically so, told me I needed to leave not just my toxic job, but my whole tech career.

At the time a strong breeze would cause me to dissolve into weeping. I'd lay on the sofa with our dog, blanket pulled over us both, crying. I attempted to go to a job interview to get out of my job and not go back, but I nearly threw up in the parking lot. This attempt at an interview, plus the fourth member of my healthcare team involved, sank my request for an extension of benefits.

The CBT therapist I'd been seeing for several years agreed that I should just leave tech and teach yoga, become a yoga therapist. It would be so much better for me. Despite this, when she got the paperwork to extend my short-term disability, she refused to confirm that my PTSD was trigged to the point of weeping on the sofa with the dog for hours at a time.

In our last session she said to me, "If I give you this diagnosis it will enable you to not try. Besides, your wife has a good job, you'll be fine without continued disability payments."

I still cannot believe I paid her for that session. I walked out of it.

I was reflecting on this on Twitter this week, in a thread about things that folks with disabilities run into. It was so destabilizing to my health, to CK's well-being. It put so much stress on her to take care of it all.

I was able to get unemployment insurance, I had to jump through several hoops to get it. I had to convince them, having a panic attack in front of my case manager probably didn't hurt, that I wasn't cleared to do a job search for tech jobs. I was ONLY cleared to search for yoga instruction.

I got classified as a "dislocated" worker. I was able to get full benefits for the maximum length of time. I was also put into a program that helped me create my business plan for transitioning into yoga therapy.

One of the things that's been filled with grief for me, even as there is so much success to celebrate, is how I've spent nearly the past 6 years rebuilding my life after a mental health breakdown. I built a whole new career and was getting established.

Now COVID. Now protests continuing. Russia still meddling in our elections.

There's so much grief and anger.

6Aug/200

Genetics and Destiny

I was so relived after my doctor's appointment I had potato chips.

"Genetics isn't always destiny.", she said to me.

While I've got significant family history of cardiovascular disease, I have done a really good job keeping the risks down.

My doctor was looking at seven markers, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, and others I'm not recalling clearly. I have over risk factor, high LDL cholesterol.

In that risk, the shape of my LDL particles is the least likely to accumulate. Big, fluffy LDL is good, if you've got it.

I've done everything I can do with dietary changes. I'm dealing with my lousy genetics on both sides. Entering into post-menopause life flipped me over after keeping it low through diet for over 12 years.

I could just say I don't want to do anything else at this time. My doctor backs this up because the good numbers in my tests after very good.

However, I feel like it's a moral obligation to not ignore it. So I'm going to be getting a test at OHSU that will measure any build up in my carotid artery. If that's really low, I'm further reassured that I'm controlling risk factors well.

If it's high, we'll discuss.

I'm also going to try taking a supplement made from red rice yeast that contains naturally occurring statins. It might not cause the usual side effects associated with this class of drugs, muscle pain and brain fog. If I get side effects, I don't take it any more.

We test again in 6 months.

She's delighted I'm boxing on our Switch. Doing cardio exercise daily is "extra credit". Not required, but might help my LDL. Definitely will help the rage I've been dealing with.

We even talked through what "cardio" looks like for someone who's asthma is triggered by usual cardio.

Talked about Intuitive Eating, I'm to stick with it. She's in agreement that I'm lucky to not have a full blown eating disorder. I'm to be work at not skipping meals even though food isn't always appealing.

I'm so grateful.

4Aug/200

Integrating: Age 4

When I was 4 my Mother and I were briefly homeless. We went to live with my Aunt and her two children, both of whom were older than I was.

It was hell and deeply traumatized me.

My childhood was spent bereft of adults who were looking out for my best interests. No one in my family took my side. I was the only child of the family scapegoat.

Today, after months of work to take the charge out of the memory I had, plus new horrifying memories of that experience the process revealed, I finished the process of integrating, "installing" the memory, per the language of SAFE.

My Mother was regularly physically violent with me as a very young child. Her inability to soothe herself resulted in terrifying outbursts.

She knew though, all along, she knew what she did to me was wrong. She waited to get me alone to unleash her anger upon me. She continued emotionally abusing me until the end of her life, but that too she would hide. She had a personality disorder, she herself experienced a terrible childhood, and she knew how she treated me was wrong.

I was, am, a remarkable human. I figured out my own ways of grounding myself, releasing my own rage out of sight of my family, learning ways to soothe myself, and resolutely turning away from the examples I was shown. I rejected narrow-mindedness, homophobia, and the casual racism that's so common in the rural edges of Oregon, just and hour outside of Portland.

I'll put an entry in a special art journal I have for this work. Each time I finish with a memory I've made a page. This is the third one, the hardest one so far because with each year we move forward, the more aware I was and making memories.

Today I had another float after my session, that's been really helping these past few sessions. I picked up takeout pizza and a bottle of wine for dinner. It was wonderful.

2Aug/200

Some Days Hurt

I woke up in more pain than usual. My left hip aching at the psoas so much that standing was uncomfortable.

I had a moment where an interaction with CK over something minor that totally overwhelmed me with feeling foolish for getting mad at our oven for beeping. Then broken because there wasn't a "good reason" for how upset I felt.

I'd wanted to get up and go for a walk today. Instead I had a meltdown.

It wasn't a terrible one. CK jumped in to tell me to play my games, including boxing this evening. She reminded me that sometimes my brain is so wrong. We even played some tabletop games..

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30Jul/200

Good News, Anxiety

I heard back from my doctor this morning in response to my letter. I have her permission to continue to explore Intuitive Eating and stop reading, and obsessing about, the saturated fat numbers on all food I consume.

I realized after reading her response that I'd be holding my breath with anxiety this whole time. I was giddy with relief as I started to teach, so I shared that and then did a meditation on the sensations of gratitude and relief in the body.

I've spent much of the day feeling anxious. Being seen, valued, and having my needs met in this way feels good, but also leaves me feeling unsettled. As though my brain can't distinguish between happy excitement and certain dread.

Tomorrow I'll practice really celebrating that I have more good happening with my health even if I've lousy genetics. I'm really grateful for our doctor.

27Jul/200

Mean Monday

Today's been one of those days where I feel like I'm not doing anything right. Doesn't matter what things I got done today, I didn't do enough, or well enough, or the right things, or...

It slowly built up over the day until I felt miserable. It makes everything feel fragile. The slightest thing results in feeling like a fuck up.

For example, for some reason I started brushing my teeth before flossing tonight. Not the order I was taught multiple times, not what I usually do, but there I was, brushing.

My brain, "You idiot! How could you fuck up flossing?!"

Then I did some boxing. Ducking is hard!

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26Jul/200

Boundaries

I’m getting better about setting boundaries, it’s a journey to learn this since my Mother raised me to have none. It goes along with learning to acknowledge my own needs as important.

It feels like boundaries are easier. Having needs, putting myself on my to-do list feels like more of a struggle. Granted, since I fundamentally struggle with feeling unworthy, it kind of makes sense that seeing my needs as worthy world be hard.

Today I told someone to wear their mask correctly and to keep their distance because they kept standing close to me at the market. Another white man, they have been the worst. He even fake lunged toward me and I told to stop joking around. I then finished conducting my business.

Boxing practice felt pretty good after that. Is joked online I'd picture the guy as my targets. Really I just thought about all the selfish people being jerks about masks and distancing.

I'm grateful to finally get a few blueberries from the middle season plant. The birds have been getting them, all of the early season ones!