Monday, June 14, 2021

The Anxious Gloomy Sads

I woke up with a case of the Anxious Gloomy Sads.

I think it is mostly that it is Monday. 
Monday's always make me anxious. 

The start of my work week just primes my brain for all sorts of unhelpful questions. 

Why do I feel so overwhelmed?  
Am I going to work enough hours to pay bills?
Am I going to tank out too early and let someone down?
Will I have time to do the things I need to do to feel content (like eat, meditate, journal, be social...) or will I reach the end of the day with not enough left?
How does everyone else do this?
How does everyone else get by?
I'm guessing they don't. 
I'm guessing like me they push through as best they can
and fighting that feeling 
being enough. 

A brisk early morning walk to the grocery store and back took care of the Anxious part. 
This just leaves me with a case of the Mildly Gloomy Sads. 
The sads always seem to linger longer. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Why self care feels like it takes so much time


This morning while journaling I had a revelation. Like many revelations it felt small in the moment it happened.  It was just one sentence, a question, in the midst of a longer rumination of words about how much of a struggle it can be to fit selfcare and healing into my daily routine.

Will selfcare feel any easier when disrupting my old ways of coping is no longer a part of the process?

It is one of those questions that seems to have the answer in its asking. Well, yes…of course it will be easier, or course it will take less time.

I was writing about how difficult it feels to fit selfcare into my daily routines.  I was lamenting about how it felt like it took so much time and effort because it involved not only the actual activities but also included a process of constantly checking in with myself and my body. It is an ongoing effort to release tension, to disrupt obsessive thoughts, to remind myself to eat, to move, to breathe.

Take my daily journaling for instance.

It sounds simple enough, sit down with my journal and pen and write. But my brain and body want to disrupt this – writing is how I do my best processing and sometimes that processing is painful. Even when writing about successes and joys there is a whole lot of self-talk I need to disrupt and overcome to get to the point of writing.

I have to intercede in my thought process, disrupt it, and redirect it so that I actually pick up the journal and pen. Then my tendency, once I am there, is to rush through it as though it is just another task I need to check off the To Do List. I start to feel hurried and rushed, so my shoulders tense and my grip tightens on my pen. I often find myself holding my breath.  

I pause, breathe, pause breathe, write, pause, release tension, write more, breathe and eventually I get into a flow and the words come.

Is it any wonder that it feels like it takes forever?

I reminded myself this morning that this is like learning any new skill. When I learned to play the drum, it took time to learn the proper way to hold the drum and to learn the rhythms to play upon it. Of course, unlike selfcare I didn’t have a bunch of bad drumming habits to overcome. I was starting fresh and so could learn the best way to do it from the beginning.

Integrating selfcare into my life includes not only learning the new habit but overcoming a whole host of non-useful coping mechanisms. Of course, it is going to feel like it takes so much longer to learn how to do it.

There are all kinds of estimates on how long it takes to gain a skill or instill a new habit ranging from three weeks to ten thousand hours. I’ve no idea how long it will take me.  I do know I am committed in a way I have not been committed before. I know that while it may not feel this way now, like any new skill it will get easier, overcoming the obstacles will get easier and take less time.

And one day soon, I am sure of this, these things will become as much a part of my life and as automatic as the old ways were.

I am looking forward to that day.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Valentine to my Body

 You give my soul a way to touch the world.

February 14, 2021


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Dream: The Wounded Cat

Last night I dreamed of a cat that couldn't walk. 

She was a fluffy silver tabby, much like my own Miss Pickles.  When I first saw her she was sitting up, as cats do, with her front paws side by side in front of her. She looked like a perfectly normal and healthy cat. Except when she tried to walk.

She would start to take a step and she would just tip over and fall to the ground. 

She'd sit up again. 

And she'd try again.

And she'd fall again. 

I watched this over and over, not understanding why it was happening. 

I moved closer and this time when she moved I saw that she would pick up her front left leg to take a step and the moment her little paw touched the ground again, the leg would become smoke and vanish. And she would fall to the side again. 

She would sit up and the leg appeared to be back. 

I reached out to touch the vanishing leg and it disappeared. Where the leg would have been was a well healed stump with a scar faintly visible beneath her fur. I realized that whatever caused this kitty to lose her leg happened a very long time ago.

She looked down and licked the stump a few times. 

I woke up shortly after. 

The dream reminded me of how so many of us are unaware of our own wounds, or how those wounds impact our ability to make our way in the world. We may think that because the injury itself is in the past, that its impacts are too. Or we may, like the cat in the dream, not even know we were wounded; we just know that we seem unable to navigate the world well.

Even when we are aware and we decide to do the work of healing, we too often begin the process with the idea that that it will lead to a restoration, as though the wound will be excised leaving no trace of it ever existing. But we can't go back to exactly who we were before our traumas, some of us live with traumas that happened when we were so young, we don't remember who we were before, or we have been carrying it for so long that healing involves learning a completely new way of being in the world. 

I feel like this is where our country and culture are at right now. There are many, many people who are only now becoming aware of how wounded we are as a culture, and there are many of those people who want to do something about that but feel stuck because the only way they, we, know to go is on the path we've been blindly walking all along. There are other paths but they are not as clearly marked and that is frightening. But we also know we can't go back, because what is behind is what caused the wound in the first place; many of our personal wounds are the result of this same wounded culture that continues to perpetuate the harm.  

Healing our cultural wounds will require us to heal ourselves.  2020 brought the awareness, I hope that 2021 brings us the way forward. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Hey Weirdo

I share a lot about my personal struggles. Sometimes I'm just having a yucky day, other times I might be dealing with a PTSD trigger, or pulling myself out of a depressive episode. I write about good stuff too, but this post is not about those posts. 

I started sharing things online in part because writing is one of my big tools for processing, but the main reason was because a large part of my trauma involves carrying secrets and pretending things are okay when they were not.  Writing about what I was feeling, putting it into some sort of tangible form, and then sharing it with someone else helped overcome that, but there was a side benefit I didn’t intend or expect.

Over the years I have had a variety of reactions from people. There are those who just click on the like, love, or cares emojis. Some share their stories of dealing with similar things. Others offer hugs, kitty pictures, or general words of support.

What no one has ever said in response to any my posts is, "Hey you weirdo. You must be the only person on the planet who has EVER felt this way."

One of the things that depression, PTSD, anxiety disorder, low self-esteem, self-loathing, or even crappy days are particularly good at (and that our culture is soooo great at reinforcing) is telling you that you are the only person who ever felt this way, that you are the only person who feels this way now, the only person who will ever feel this way...AND it's all your fault because you are surely some broken, overly emotional freak of nature.

You are not. Whatever you are experiencing someone in this vast world, offline or on Facebook, has felt it too.

I know that for me, just knowing that someone else has felt something similar helps me to confront those inner voices that try to convince me that I what I am feeling is somehow wrong or “not normal.” It reminds me that those voices are not telling the truth, and that my experience is not an isolated one, but a human one. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Fuck everything. I'm grumpy.

Grumpy leaves me feeling annoyed with everything. 

The world. Humanity. You. Me. Everyone and everything. 

Grumpy turns minor things into giant, teeth gnashing, monster issues. 

Is that a sock on the floor?


Grumpy arrives at the party carrying unannounced discontent; glad to be here but the dip could use more salt, the chair is lumpy, and are you struggling financially because it's a bit chilly in here. 

I never remember if I invited them or not. Or why.

Grumpy eats a package of tiny white powered donuts, a double-decker oatmeal cream pie, and a bag of Fun-Yuns out of spite. Spite for who or what...doesn't really matter. 

and Grumpy 

Grumpy will sit here with a broody furrowed brow, answering all questions with one syllable. 

Grumpy.  Takes. EVERYTHING. Personally.  . 

Grumpy walks around with stompy feet, full of sighs, wishing someone would just FREAKING ASK ME HOW I'M DOING BECAUSE NO ONE REALLY CARES...AND...

"...oh me? oh...I'm just fine really.  Oh yes.  No...that furrowed brow? Oh...just a lot on my mind. I'm fine."


Grumpy is contradictory.  

Grumpy only stops to pet the cat.

Grumpy really only hears what Grumpy wants to hear. 

Grumpy does not want to participate in today.  

Grumpy will be staying in their room until Thursday...

 ...or maybe 2022. 


Thursday, October 8, 2020

27 Days...

When I watched the video of surfer Matt Wilkinson's close encounter with a shark my first thought was, "Oh myyyy woahhhhhh!!"

After the woah factor passed, my thoughts turned to how each of us likely comes this close to being seriously injured or killed on a regular basis, but we never know it because there isn't a drone hovering above us, watching what goes on around us. Our focus is generally on whatever is right in front of us, with our thoughts centered on whatever is upcoming. 

We operate under this illusion of sameness, and control; believing that we will always be here tomorrow or that things will go as planned. .  
But we won't ever know how choosing to cross a street in a different place prevented us from being hit by a car.  
We won't ever know that we narrowly missed getting a COVID positive Uber driver. 
We won't ever know that we were almost bitten by a mosquito carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis. 
Our minds create the illusion of certainty because we can't function if we live on guard 100% of the time (ask almost any abuse survivor, hyper-vigilance is exhausting). And because our beautiful brains are capable of taking in information, calculating risks, and making predictions, we believe we have control. 
I find this weirdly comforting right now, knowing that there has always been uncertainty, there has always been the unknown. I find it comforting because this means that it is possible to function without knowing the outcome. We are unaware that we are doing this every day. It is the knowing that the uncertainty is coming that gives room and time for the mind to play out all sorts of possibilities, for me it is usually ones of the apocalyptic sort, and our bodies respond with stress and worry. Our minds know that is coming, but our bodies believe it is here now. 
So I talk to my body.  I breathe into it.  I tense and relax muscles. I check-in.  Slowly, with these and other tools, I pull my body back from tension, back from crisis mode. I remind my body that this new unertainty has not arrived yet. 
I do this again, and again, and again. Not to deny that a crisis is coming or to convince my body that the illusion is real, but so that I can respond to what is to come from a place of groundedness and relative clarity, instead of fear and anxiety. 
These tools won't spare me from feeling fear or anxiety, but they will help put me, mind and body, in a place where they can be utilized as one more source of information, and not as the only one.