My world is about order and control. Perhaps you wouldn’t realize this if you saw the dishes piled on my sink or the dirty bathroom, but it’s true. That’s why this PTSD is affecting me so severely. I am unable to control my feelings or contain my mind, and the lack of control is driving me crazy! However, if I want to heal I must learn to relinquish control in favor of finding new ways to cope… creative ways I never learned in grad school.
Today, I was looking for a coping skill. I have several essential oil samples that I’ve been smelling today because I am still wary of putting them on my skin. They have helped, but I’m thinking this is more due to me deep breathing than the healing power of a scent. I decided to color, and found a nice and orderly page that even had a color code box. I had colored for about 30 seconds when I heard my son in the next room. I recognized that I should be playing with him, and so with slight panic of relinquishing control to a four year old, I asked if he wanted to help me color. Of course he was delighted to spend time with me, and he quickly had other plans that did not include anything close to the color code.
What resulted was a beautiful picture that I am proud of because we worked on it together. It is an unusual combination of colors and coloring talent (him being far more talented at coloring than me!), and the picture is filled with conversation about colors, taking turns, sharing, and thankfulness.
My box of healing includes the therapies and coping techniques I learned in grad school, but after 3 years of this kind of therapy it is just not helping. It is time to step out of the box. I am working to bring order into my day, even if it includes a very small (but always reachable) to-do list. I am using grounding techniques using all of my senses, and instead of shutting down I am trying to step into my children’s worlds. That means focusing on my son’s words and play instead of mentally calculating when I will have time to cut his hair next, and trying not to steer him into the bathroom to clip his nails or gently swab that never-ending glub of wax that seems to always be at the base of his ear canal. It means taking a deep breath and allowing him to push his matchbox cars through the dried-out playdough instead of immediately throwing it into the trash. It means smiling at my daughter and smelling her and touching her skin while she nurses, instead of checking my email. It means listening to my husband when he is speaking, and joining him in conversation. It means enjoying my family, enjoying my life. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One moment a time. One breath at a time.
What I’m hoping will result is a beautiful picture that could not have been predicted by my mental coloring codes, with scribbles where I wanted straight lines, and sudden color changes where I was expecting consistency. But I’m hoping it will be a picture full of color and full of life. And full of healing. Mostly, full of peace.