Fear of vulnerability

There is one feeling I cannot bear: vulnerability. I don’t like people in my world acknowledging my blog posts; I wish I had never shared my blog to begin with. I feel too vulnerable. When I speak about my struggles, I avoid eye contact at all costs, even in therapy. I feel too vulnerable.

When I get that distinct feeling of vulnerability with someone, my need to sabotage above all costs overrides my desire for self-control and health. I think the only reason my marriage has stood for five years is that my husband scoffs at awkward and emotional topics; he’d rather discuss politics, sports, and his current research on finding the perfect running shoe.

I have been rejoicing over a family member who just adopted two children, and I have been watching the kids settling in for months over Facebook. Then last week, even after the adoption papers were signed, the oldest was ripped from loving arms (“hero daddy”, “Prince daddy”, her “rescuer”- her 3 year old words) and placed with one of her abusers… The only person she was adamant she did not ever want to see again. We are not sure what will happen with the adoption, but her sudden vulnerability has spiraled me into an incredible fight of my own.

Since then, the work I’ve done to move forward and establish healthy relationships has ended abruptly. My flashbacks are back. My non-psychotic hallucinations are back (seeing blood). My anxiety attacks are back. I’m frozen again. My patience is low for my husband and son. Anyone I see who has especially been kind or caring has got to go. SABOTAGE. SABOTAGE. SABOTAGE.

And I don’t know what to do about it. I used to run as hard as I could until I felt like I was going to pass out, and then my body would hurt too much to self-harm or sabotage relationships. Due to certain circumstances, I can’t do that right now. Nothing else has worked for me.

Yesterday I did my very best sabotaging with a fairly new but very sweet friendship. Because she is too sincere (another word I’m afraid of: sincerity). Her response was, ” I’m still here. And will be.” Scary words to a person with attachment issues!! So now I must pull it together, whether I want to or not.

I will stand and fight. I will not sabotage. I will take it one step at a time. Meet each of my family members’ needs one at a time. Complete one task at a time. Put one foot in front of the other, one at a time. Focus on things above, not on things on the earth. Trust God to do a work, trust that He has been working. Do my devotions. Lean on scripture. Lean not on my own understanding.

One task at a time. As unto the Lord. Because He is greater than my trauma, my symptoms, my fears. He alone is greater.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12

Advertisements

Fixing Our Form

Yesterday when I was running, I saw my shadow and realized I quite resemble Phoebe when I run. Embarrassing. So today, I fixed my form. By fixing my form alone, I shaved off 25 seconds per mile from my pace!

In regard to healing from our trauma, maybe all we need is to adjust our form. Pull our elbows in, straighten our backs, and lengthen our strides. Do the coping skills our therapists tell us, choose to make changes that will lead to a recovery. Open our mouths and move our limbs when our brains say our bodies should be frozen. Eat healthy foods to nourish our bodies.

Some days I do not want to make the effort. Change is hard. But it took almost no effort for me to fix my running form. My breathing was nearly the same and my bad knee doesn’t hurt like it usually does! Maybe, just maybe it doesn’t take much effort to start making healthy strides towards healing. And if we make the smallest of changes, perhaps we will see that all of a sudden our bum knee isn’t bum anymore; our breathing is regulated; and we have reached the finish line without realizing.

And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. -Hebrews 12:1

Photo credit: hungryrunnergirl.com

Making a Choice

schedule2I am actively making a choice to turn my potentially bad day into a good day. I am saying to myself, “I can put a movie on for my son and be perfectly okay with it because I’ve written bad days into my routine. However, since I have a choice, I am going to push through and do what needs to be done.” I’m taking a breather to come up with an action plan and coping skills to help me manage today. Today I have to say goodbye to my therapist. Plus, work has been quite stressful the past few weeks and I’m finally starting to process it today. Anyway, today my family needs me. Instead of shutting down and choosing self-loathing, I colored my completed tasks to red in order to have a visual of what all I need to complete (and to see how much I’ve completed even through my spiral). I wrote my to-do list at the bottom, but really the only thing that *needs* to get done are the race bibs. I have to write 200 names, ages, and sexes on 200 bibs for tomorrow’s race.

Regarding my chosen coping skills for the day, I have found that if I ground myself with all my senses, it tends to work wonders. Therefore, I bought a pack of Jolly Ranchers to use. Silly putty really grounds me too.

Disclaimer: I am actually quite unorganized, despite posting my schedule for the past two days!! It is very unlike me to follow through with a routine like this. We’ll see how long it lasts, but it seems to be working right now.

Containment Skills

During an emergency therapy session last week, therapist #2 had me work on containment in order to ground me. She had me write out trigger words and items that are triggers around my home, and how I feel when I am triggered. Then, I folded them as many times as I could and placed them into an envelope, and then sealed the envelope. She asked me what I wanted to do with the envelope. I told her to keep it. She said that the point of the exercise is to give me control. I am putting these triggers and feelings away until I choose to pull them out one at a time, and I get to control how long they are out (ie, for a therapy session only). I mostly felt better after session. Then, yesterday I had supervision at work (speaking with a licensed therapist to share and collaborate on my cases, which is a requirement for me as I seek licensure), where I shared some of my problems containing my own “issues,” especially regarding a specific client. She again shared the concept of containing the issues in either an imaginary box or a real box. I told her the words keep escaping from their imaginary box, and that my box continued to explode. She told me to stop making up excuses and to practice what I preach.

crayons

Once I returned to my office, I had a no-show, so I decided to use my art therapy supplies to contain my feelings and triggers again.

trigger words

I folded them up and placed them in my work bag, for lack of a better place at work.

in purse

On an afterthought, I wrote something else to place in my pocket to help ground me when I needed, along with this Lego. The Lego has been in my pocket since my session on Thursday. She gave me a polished rock for my pocket as a tangible grounder, and I replaced it with the Lego because it reminds me that I’m fighting for my children. The paper reminds me that no matter how dirty I feel, my body is white as snow.

lego

I Challenge Thee….

To a Pi memorization contest!!!! I challenge you to report back at the end of the day, the following:

-Number of digits memorized

-Mood at the beginning of the day (including 1-10 scale)

-Mood at the end of the day (including 1-10 scale)

Official hypothesis: If a person is spiraling and chooses to memorize Pi, then the person’s mood will improve by at least 2 points.

Why? You’re engaging a different part of your brain that is not connected with emotion.

Ready, and…. GO!

greek alphabet

Photo courtesy of my son’s bedroom 🙂

Alternatives to Self-Harm

3-3-14

Common coping skills offered for self-harm often include a less intrusive form of self-harm, including snapping a rubber band on your wrist; squeezing an ice cube; digging fingernails into your skin; scratching; or taking a freezing cold shower. All of these provide a minor level of pain and the brain still releases the ever-satisfying (and potentially addicting) endorphins. I have also heard of people drawing hash marks in place of using a blade, sometimes using red ink. I have encouraged these as alternatives when people believe they truly need to feel pain. However, I believe all perpetuate the self-harm cycle… just to a lesser degree than a blade (squeezing an ice cube has also been shown to cause nerve damage). It’s one step down, but it’s not where you necessarily want to be.

Some healthy coping skills I might encourage are: drawing a picture of something sweet (like a butterfly) where you would self-harm; write an encouraging quote (a Bible verse?) where you would self-harm; drinking juice or eating a healthy meal (if you have not eaten recently, your hypoglycemia may be perpetuating your cycle); or healthy exercise.

However, I have found art therapy to be the most effective coping skill in managing self-harm. It’s cathartic, it tires your arm if you scribble hard enough, and if you use bright colors it will improve your mood (whereas the dark colors- especially red- may perpetuate the cycle). This drawing is beautiful because it was used as an alternative. And it worked. I encourage you to try it too.

The Therapy Room

I hate therapy. I love being a therapist. But I hate therapy. Therapy is a strange concept, isn’t it? You are in a one-sided relationship where you are expected to pour out your soul. The therapist encourages you to think for yourself, take care of yourself, and allow yourself to feel overwhelming feelings instead of run from them. The therapy room becomes a haven where you greatly look forward to feeling relaxed, safe, and comfortable; but the therapy room also becomes a dreaded place where you learn to talk openly about nightmares, trauma, and the dark aspects of your life that you would never talk about otherwise. After you experience these conflicting feelings for 45 minutes to an hour and a half (that’s how long mine are; an hour and a half), you are expected to zip up your emotions and walk out of the therapy room as collected as you were when you first walked in. It’s bizarre. It teaches “containment skills.” In non-therapeutic terms, it teaches you to wear a facade. In some respects, a facade is necessary or you would never get anything done but wallow in the overwhelming feelings. However, you feel desperately alone in the facade. You go through the motions and wait both anxiously and excitedly until the next session, where you will pour out your heart in this bizarre, one-sided relationship.

I hate therapy. It sends me into a spiral for a few days following because I hate shoving my mask back on. If I could, I would shout my trauma from the roof tops, I would announce it to the world; I am sick of wearing this mask and pretending that I am functioning on a normal level. Anyone who is hiding something knows what I’m talking about. Statistics say at least 1 in 3 of you are hiding something. I’m so sorry. That is why I write this; you are not alone. You are not the only person wearing a mask. I wish we could come up with some sort of subtle sign to wear to alert others that you are falling apart beneath the facade. That way, those not struggling would not notice, but those who needed to know they are not alone would see.

My husband will be gone all day tomorrow. Where I usually have a break with the kids, I now have them ALL. DAY. LONG. So, here’s my to-do list. We’ll see how much gets done. This is me, zipping up my mask to function and parent, and do my best to manage myself and my household. I hate this mask. I hate learning to wear this mask, and I hate learning to manage the emotions under the mask. I hate therapy. I wish I could both never go to therapy and never leave therapy, all at the same time.

to do list

Coping Skill Depletion

Journal

Draw

Clean

Parent

Rest

Cry

Scream

Shower

Grounding

Music

Snuggles

Sugar

Cooking

Facebook

Email

RAINN

I nearly went crazy today with flashbacks

I felt so alone

But I am not crazy

I am not alone

I am 7. Sometimes the best coping skill is a juice box… and a straw to chew away the anxiety

grape juice