Posts Tagged ‘self-soothing’

Bullshit

January 15, 2019

I keep expecting someone to say that when I say, “thank you for 14 years.”

It sounds so surreal coming out of my mouth.

How the hell did that happen?

Really?

Fourteen years.

Nights and weekends, nothing in between, nothing to take the edge off.

As if anything really could.

Using or drinking for me over an issue or a problem would just be pouring gas on a bonfire.

I would burn it all down and I don’t actually think I would die.

That would be the easier, softer way.

No.

I think I would live a miserable, dire, soul less, ugly life.

I have so much in my life I cannot imagine ever going back.

I do see it happen though.

So here’s to having more commitments and suiting up and showing up and doing the deal no matter what.

My life is really wonderful and it was with much sweetness that I picked up some metal last night in front of my community who witnesses me with so much love.

It really awes me the amount of love I have been given access to.

Most of all, the love I feel for myself.

The level of compassion and forgiveness I have for myself really is so vast.

I didn’t have it growing up.

Occasionally I would have a moment where I thought I might have something worthy in me, I was certainly smart, but how many times does it take for a person to hear that she is “too smart for her own good,” before she begins, I begin, to think the same.

I used to also wonder.

How come if I’m so damn smart I can’t figure out my life or what I want or where I’m going.

I mean.

I had some idea.

I knew I wanted out of Wisconsin and after multiply failed attempts I made it out in 2002 to travel all the way across the country and cross the Bay Bridge in my little two door Honda Accord.

I still remember what it felt like crossing over that bridge.

I was definitely crossing a threshold.

I had no idea.

Sometimes I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t know all the things that were going to transpire.

Who knows if I would have made it out.

I do certainly remember that.

I had a feeling of dread that my time was soon to be up in Wisconsin and I needed to leave, there was a constant low-level thrum of anxiety, a beating drum of doom that throbbed just below everything.

I was in constant fear.

I had no name for it though.

I had no idea the anxiety I was under.

I knew the depression.

That I had at least been seen for, once when I was in my early twenties and when the therapist wanted to medicate me as my insurance wouldn’t allow her to continue serving me unless I was prescribed meds, I bounced.

I didn’t understand then what depression meant.

All I knew was that sometimes it was terribly hard to get out of bed.

Or bathe.

I remember my boyfriend once made a comment about it, that the sheets needed to be changed or washed and I knew I had to get out and wash the bedding and myself, but getting into the shower was so damn hard.

I can remember how sunny it was too and we lived really close to James Madison park, literally just a few blocks away on Franklin.

I can count the number of times I went to the park on a sunny summer day on one hand and have more than a few fingers left over.

I could not get myself out of the house.

I knew it would pass.

It always did.

But it started to get longer.

And longer.

I might have a day of it once in a while and then nothing for sometime and then it would just snake back in.

For some reason it happened (and can happen for me now, there’s sometimes a feeling of dread during the longest days of the year) during the summer when there was lots of light and no reason to be caged up inside.

People think depression and they see rainy days and grey skies.

I saw sunshine and couldn’t bear to be out in it.

I worked nights.

I slept days.

Sometimes, in the dead of winter I would not see the sunlight at all.

Unless it was the sunrise coming up as I was coming home from closing the bar where I worked.

I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in undergrad.

Turns out that some folks, about 10% of the population that has the disorder, actually experience the depression in the summer.

I remember one year that was really bad.

I was in between jobs, I had just given notice to the Essen Haus where I had been the General Manager and was transitioning to my new job at the Angelic Brewing Company as their Floor Manager (still the worst title ever, how about Queen of Doing Everything, that seems more apt).

I had two weeks off.

I was supposed to have taken those two weeks off to go on a road trip with my boyfriend, but it didn’t come to fruition due to the Angelic needing me to start before the trip had been planned.

I postponed it and planned on doing it the next year which never happened either, but I digress.

My boyfriend went to work in the morning and I sat in the living room of our apartment in a rocking chair.

I sat there all day long.

I might have read books.

I would sleep as long in bed as I could, then get up and sit in that chair until he came home.

Part of me suspected that there was something very soothing about the rocking of the chair, I used to self-soothe as a child when I was upset by rocking back and forth, I can still slip into it if I’m really freaked out.

I don’t remember much of that week, but one particular scene is always in my head and that is of the shadows growing longer and longer in the apartment as the sun set.

They would crawl slowly across the floor and I would watch them inch up the walls until the apartment was muddled in twilight and I would only get up to turn on the light five minutes before I thought my boyfriend was going to get home.

There were many nights of sitting in that chair in the dark by myself alone.

I told no one.

Wowzers.

I had no idea that was going to be what I wrote about tonight, but hey, there it is.

In addition to the SAD, I have depression.

Hahahaha.

Sigh.

Major Depressive Disorder is the clinical diagnosis.

I managed it once in early sobriety with antidepressants but after a few years I got of the meds and deal with it through writing daily in my morning journal, I use a light therapy box every morning, I write affirmations, I get outside as much as I can, I eat really, really, really well, I do my own therapy work, I cultivate relationships with my fellows and I have good damn friends.

And I don’t drink.

Alcohol is a depressant you know.

I didn’t.

Not for years.

And for years I have been pretty free from that great ocean of doom and for that I am so grateful.

My life is lovely.

Challenging, sure.

But absolutely lovely.

Thank you for 14 years!

You know who you are and I love you, very, very, very much.

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What To Do?

July 7, 2017

I mean.

I have poetry surging through me right now.

But.

I also just need to process the fuck out of my day.

It was a day.

And though I was chased by poetry all day long.

ALL DAY LONG.

I feel as though I just need to write it out for a while.

It’s how I work things out.

Oh.

The poetry is that too.

But I have had a long day and I want to shake it out of my brain so that I can sleep.

I have much to do tomorrow and many places to go and be and do and see and feel.

Oh.

All the feels.

Hello feels.

So nice to see you again.

I don’t find it at all ironic that the field I am training in is therapy.

Hello.

Let ‘s get down to the feelings you have around that.

I had three clients tonight.

However, I only saw two of them.

One of my clients confused when we were supposed to meet and as the client was new and had not done an assessment yet I rescheduled her, I wasn’t going to be able to do an assessment in the ten minutes before my first session.

It took some time to explain what she needed to do and I had to own my part, there had been some miscommunication.

A little like playing telephone the old-fashioned way with cardboard tubes and strings.

It was worked out, but it ended with me having an hour in between my two clients that I did see.

I was fine with that, it actually let me take an important phone call and watch the sky while the sunset.

It was a nice sunset.

I found myself looking at the sky a lot today.

At work earlier in the day, it was a long day people 9a.m.-9:30p.m., the baby had fallen asleep on me.

Not once but twice.

The first time was fairly short and I handed him off to the mom who was heading out the door and taking him with her on her journey through the day.

I got to hang out with the other two monkeys and do lots of cooking a meal prep.

Then when the mom got back I got the baby and he passed out on me.

I had him on my chest, in a carrier, for at least two, probably two and a half hours.

Oh sure.

I looked at my phone a bit.

I read some texts.

I looked at some photographs.

Then I just got dreamy and looked out the window.

I watched the sky.

I watched the trees.

I closed my eyes and drifted.

I was seated on the couch and a few times the little guy would startle hearing his siblings or his mom and he would wake up and cry a bit and I had to get up and walk around and jostle him and bounce and hum.

I have this little thing I hum.

I have been doing it all the years I have been a nanny.

Sometimes I catch myself humming to myself.

It settles me, it soothes me, I don’t know how it exactly came about, but I pair that hum with a lullaby and sometimes I will just hum, three or four notes and repeat them again and again and breathe, in and out, deep and slow, and the baby always settles.

He left a pool of drool on my chest, a ring of moisture that the mom was aghast to see when I finally took him out of the carrier five minutes before I had to hop on my scooter and head to my internship to see my first client.

She pointed it out and I shrugged it off.

“My clients will love that, subconsciously, I’ll be a maternal and warming experience,” I told her, noting to myself that it wasn’t spit up and I didn’t smell like mothers milk, it was just baby drool and I know that baby drool is actually an amazing moisturizer.

I credit that and my grandmothers genetics on my father’s side for my youthful good looks.

Hahahahahaha.

Sorry.

I digress.

I told the mom it would dry before I got to work and I wasn’t worried about my clothes.

Although my fucking clothes have been much on my mind this past week.

The washer in the garage has been out of commission, it was supposed to be repaired this Wednesday but when I tried to do a load of wash last night, no go.

And I got a text from my landlady today while I was at work saying that it was beyond repair and that it would be getting replaced.

IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Fuck my life.

I can’t tell you how much I was relying on doing laundry when I got home tonight.

God laughs when I make plans.

I guess I”m going to have to go to the laundry mat on Saturday.

Grr.

Annoying as fuck.

But at least the dryer works.

It’s more that it’s a time suck.

I don’t know how early or how late the laundry mat is open, it’s just down the block by the 7-11 on Judah and 46th, it’s just out of my fucking way and I don’t want to waste time dealing with it and I need to wash my yoga gear if I hit a class on Saturday.

Anyway.

Fucking luxury problems.

I have more than enough clean clothes to get me through the rest of the week.

Shit.

Tomorrow is Friday.

FRIDAY.

So ready for you.

So ready to see you.

Yes.

Yes I am.

Ah.

And there.

See

I did it.

I processed all my shit.

And maybe.

Well.

Maybe there will be poetry too.

There’s been so much.

Why not a little more.

It is the end of the week after.

Sweet dreams.

Gentle awakenings.

Happy end of the week.

I’ll see you on the flip.

Can’t Figure It Out

October 25, 2016

Because there is nothing to figure out.

I know I have written about this before.

I just struck me hard today when I was doing some reading for school.

Yeah.

I know.

Take a break.

However.

I really wanted to get caught up on the reading that I didn’t have fully done from this past weekend; I have a couple of whopper big papers due the next round of classes and I want to have the reading done and organized in my head.

I got up early today.

Earlier than the last three days, four days, I’m a little lost as far as what day it is, they are all bleeding together.

All I know is that Friday will be an amazing thing to get to.

Next Saturday will be my first day off in two weeks.

Two weeks.

My employers asked me if I had a good weekend.

Sure.

I went to school for 29 hours after working a full week of work and then turned around to do a nine-hour shift today.

And it was a short shift.

It usually goes 9.5 hours on Mondays.

I had a great weekend!

Bwahahahaha.

No.

Really.

It was actually a lot of work, but it was so good to see some of the people in my cohort, I just have made some extraordinary friends there.

I have, I have.

And though I didn’t want to be at work, Mondays are my longest day, they are also, in some ways my most relaxed.

I only have one charge.

Her parents are gone the entire day.

And.

She naps.

Heavenly baby naps.

So I actually did do homework.

I wasn’t going to bring my Psychopathology books with me.

I really wasn’t.

I was going to give myself some down time.

But then I thought, you’ll be pissed when you get a fat baby nap and you don’t have some homework to kick through, it’ll feel like wasted time.

You know me.

I hate wasting time.

I need to learn how to though, I do know that.

Anyway.

I had a sweet, lovely morning with her, we danced, we read books, we went for a walk around the block on her little push tricycle.

It was adorable.

Then I put her down for naps, had lunch, made some tea and got into the reading.

I kicked through two chapters of Psychoanalytic Case Formulation.

Don’t be jealous.

Hella sexy read.

Then.

I started reading my Psychodynamic Psychiatry in Clinical Practice book.

I know.

I know you want to read them.

It’s ok.

You can borrow them when I’m done.

Heh.

I was struck as I sat on the couch fiddling around with my hair how I have changed so much and grown so much and then I was thinking about a condition that we were studying in class over the weekend.

Trichotillomania.

Huh.

Obsessive hair pulling.

Some people can’t stop pulling out their eyebrows or eyelashes.

Some can’t stop pulling out their hair.

I used to be a hair twirler.

I did not know that until my mom told me, years ago, that when I was little I would obsessively twist my hair until I gave myself bald spots.

I just about burst into tears.

I still do it on occasion.

And it’s a self-soothing response to stress.

It’s also extraordinarily indicative of trauma in the client’s history.

All the things I used to do to deal with the pain of being me.

Pulling out my hair.

Stopped that.

I don’t actually remember when I stopped, but I did.

I also know that during a very stressful point in my sobriety and recovery I was working with someone who pointed out to me that I was twirling my hair and he hadn’t seen me do that before and wondered out loud what that was about.

I didn’t know at the time, but I found it comforting and I will do it once in a while now.

I have noticed that I do it when I am reading for class.

I also notice a few other habits that I didn’t use to correlate to anything at all.

Like.

Oh.

Fuck, this is embarrassing, but whatever.

In the interest of science, er, I mean, my blog.

I used to exhibit pretty bad excoriation.

Excoriation (skin-picking) disorder.

I know.

REALLY SEXY.

I’ll stop soon.

I promise.

Maybe.

It has faded, but it was a slow fade.

I started with my mom doing it to me, she’d pick at my acne when I started going through adolescence, then I picked it up, I am surprised I don’t have acne scars.

I used to have pretty bad acne too.

Still get it on the odd day, but it’s pretty much gone, worked its way out of my system by the time I had two years of sobriety.

I had a horrible habit around it.

I would pick at my fingers too, bite my nails, peel off the cuticle around my nails, oh so many hang nails.

Also.

Yes.

A trauma survivor response.

So much fucking trauma.

And that’s when the reading hit home.

And made my chest tight and also, shit, fuck, motherfucker, holy mother of god, I finally figured it out.

Well.

Hahaha.

I figured out why I am always trying to figure it out.

I have had an inkling of it.

But it all just fell into my lap.

I was reading about trauma, shocker, I am going to be reading a lot about trauma and I need to remind myself that I also get to do a lot of sweet self-care for myself and although I recognize my resilience and it is extraordinary, there are still ways for me to be gentle.

I mean I have had some big time information come into my life regarding my family and family of origin in the last few weeks.

I have seen it ripple out into the world in odd and interesting ways.

Some sweet, some strange, some uncomfortable.

All sorts of information and wilding things falling out of the wood work.

Amazing.

Then.

As I sat reading, twirling my hair, scratching at the back of my neck, why is it so itchy?

I had a huge aha moment.

Oh my god.

The reading is re-traumatizing me.

Great.

Which is to be expected.

It’s just stirring stuff up from the bottom of the pot.

It’s all good though, I realized what was happening because I had read about the ways in which trauma can manifest itself psychodynamically.

Oh.

And all the other ways I have coped in the past popped into my head and that I have stopped doing them.

I stopped!

Do you have any clue how amazing that is?

I do.

I put down cocaine, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, all forms of processed flour.

I no longer have stage four cystic acne, I don’t pull my hair out, and I don’t pick at my cuticles, I stopped biting my nails years ago and I have to say it is a small and beautiful gift to myself that I go and get them done.

I am proud of my nails.

My hair.

And of course, I have moments, trembling with the need to change and soothe and self-sabotage when I want to cut it all the fuck off.

I know that I won’t.

But it pops up.

All the things that pop up.

The last one, the one that I have been saving, since I figure I lost most of my readership a while back as this is not a sexy, sexy blog, is that “figuring it out” is a psychodynamic symptom of a child that has suffered severe trauma or sexual abuse.

Check.

Not to be tongue in cheek, but to move this along, I realized that I kept having this recurring pattern, all my life I have been trying to figure it out.

Breaking my own heart trying to figure it out, even when I was told again and again, “figure it out is not a slogan,” or good luck with that, or that there was no “figuring it out” to drop that.

That I have been standing banging my head on a wall for years and years trying to figure it out.

Because if I can figure out what is wrong with me, I can fix me.

I can fix what ever it is in me that didn’t know how to stop what was happening to me, that if I figure it out the same thing won’t happen to me again, I won’t get hurt, I have figured out what is wrong with me, why I destroyed so much and then I can get on with the getting on of life and be ok and like.

I don’t know, have a boyfriend or something.

Except.

That I didn’t do anything wrong.

I don’t have to fix something that I didn’t break.

It wasn’t broken because of me.

How can a four-year old be accountable to that?

Childlike, I blamed myself for my grandmother’s divorce, my mothers separation and subsequent divorce from my father, that I was the reason I was being abused.

I was the whistleblower.

But.

It was still my fault.

I brought the house of cards tumbling down.

Like all abused children I believed that there was something wrong with me, and in this believing I persevered with a hope, that if I could figure it out I could change it and the abuse would stop.

A four-year old cannot be held to that.

A four-year old doesn’t know how to cross the street without holding an adults hand.

“Come on baby, we’re running away from home, momma’s mean,” I said to my two-year old sister, taking her by the hand and walking out the door.

We walked around the block.

I had been told to never cross the street without holding an adults hand.

That’s how my mom found me, walking around in circles.

That is how I found me.

In this circular pattern of thinking for so fucking long.

I can’t fix me.

I was never broken.

I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, I can’t change it.

I can just accept it.

Which is not approval, by the way.

It was just what happened.

I can, however, be of service and take it in stride and let it go.

I can let my heart fill up with love.

I can say it stops here.

And something new grows forward.

Something amazing.

Me.

More and more fully myself.

I am so excited.

Seriously.

I know this seems implausible.

But I am relieved.

It finally landed.

I finally got it.

I can stop trying to figure it out.

The relief.

Well.

The relief is huge.

And I am blessed.

Graced.

Grateful.

And loved.

So very.

Very.

Loved.

 

Stalling

January 25, 2016

But not stalled out.

Although, I admitted to a person of mine that I did indeed feel like I wanted to bail, that I have had enough, I’m done, I’m not doing my homework, stamping foot.

Stamp.

Stamp.

Stamp.

But I did do a lot of homework anyway.

As I sometimes explain to the five year old when he doesn’t want to do something, “you can not want to do it and do it anyway, you get to do it.”

Most of the time not wanting to do something for him is not the horrendous nightmare of being fed kale or broccoli, rather it’s not wanting to stir off the floor to go out to the park.

“Come on, you love the park,” I cajole him.

“No.  I want to stay inside,” he will reply petulant.

I don’t know what’s up with that, I always wanted to be outside, out of the house, on my own, doing my bit, playing how I wanted to play, exploring, adventuring, sallying forth with no regard to time of day and when or how I would get back home.

I however, was escaping what were often intolerable home situations and experiences.

Being outside was my great escape, my first experience with God, or as I like to think of it, the G.reat O.ut D.oors.

I was talking with my person on the phone about a conversation I had with my mom recently, school stuff, and the ramifications of realizing how vulnerable I feel when I am reading about a psychoanalytical theory and how the manifestations of so many issues arise from my childhood.

It seems that I ache with every theory and postulate, I see myself, my experience, the things that happened, the way I choose to disassociate, or check out, if you will, the self-medicating I used to do.

Basic stuff that I realize I almost never do now.

Except when I do them.

And it will be a shock, a surprise, a moment of realization, oh, I’m doing that, what need do I have that I am not fulfilling?

How can I better take care of myself?

What do I need to do to bolster my own self-esteem?

Or self-worth?

I did not get the kind of primary nurturing and attending to that children need to grow up with a strong stable sense of self.

I am not blaming my mom.

I am not blaming society.

I am not blaming my grandparents.

I am not blaming the nature of alcoholism, sexual abuse, trauma, neglect, addiction.

I am not looking even for an answer.

If I had the answers would I feel any differently?

I am just accepting that things happened and that there is still work to be done and attention to be paid and actions to be taken.

I get to have this experience.

School reading, psychology theory, brings it up.

What’s wrong with client x?

He was abandoned, neglected, beaten as a child.

What’s wrong with patient z?

She was neglected, ignored, improperly nourished, as a child.

What’s wrong with patient, ad infinitum.

So much seems to stem from these early basic child hood patterns and seeing them, reading about them, recognizing characteristics and traits in myself, I am sometimes saddened.

Often times grateful.

I somehow made it out and through and beyond.

(My own creation of friends, family, fellowship which has nurtured me, raised me, really)

I will be literally struck by how challenging these things are to a young, budding psyche and be amazed that I am not curled up in a fucking ball somewhere, hiding under my bed.

Or.

In my closet under a pile of clothes.

Or anywhere I can have a wall at my back.

In other words.

I am resilient.

And I love that about myself and that I get to forgive all those things, that I don’t have to continue holding onto them, that I can let go, but down the boulder of shame and the burdens of other people’s guilt, they are not mine to carry and I am not interested in doing their heavy labor any longer.

I am, rather, interested in doing what makes me happy.

Going blonde.

What satisfies me.

Having dinner with a dear friend.

Oh my God, that sushi was awesome.

What fulfills me.

Working with a ladybug today and talking about defects of character.

Doing good self care, which included pulling out the chaise and sweeping up the dust bunnies in the corner and cleaning my rugs and sweeping and doing laundry.

Grocery shopping and buying food I like.

Cooking for myself.

And.

Yes.

Doing my taxes.

I laughed out loud though, when I realized I was doing my taxes to avoid doing my psychology homework.

So.

I made some calls and outed myself and when it was done and I had lunch in my belly, I sat and I read.

And I read.

And I read some more.

I got a lot done.

I finished up the reading for one of my classes completely and got a good start in on the next.  I also ascertained a due date on a paper and started doing a little preliminary tabbing and marking in my text to make notes for the paper.

And when the reading got hard, it did, partially from the standpoint of this is new material and partially from the stand point, of ouch, damn it, I relate a little too much to this, can’t wait til I’m in therapy again, ouch, stop it.

I stopped.

I took a breath.

I went outside on the back porch and caught some sun.

It’s pretty sheltered so if the wind isn’t too blowy and the day is not overcast, there’s a nice little spot to get some sunshine on my face.

Or.

I made some tea.

Actually.

I made a lot of tea.

I was a tea drinking fiend today.

It’s a kind of self-soothing for me.

It warms me up, I feel safe, somehow, taken care of, it’s nurturing.

Granted I may go to the bathroom a bunch, but it does the trick.

And it’s much healthier than some other things I have tried to make me feel better.

Cigarettes.

Vodka.

Cocaine.

Donuts.

And it was literally something suggested to me as a way to self-soothe.

“If it gets bad, take a hot bath, and bring a cup of hot tea in the bath with you,” my therapist said.

Sometimes it was too hard to even get myself into the bath.

I am not at that place any longer, I have done the work to move forward and I shall continue doing the work that arises, but once in a while, it will sting, and it will reveal things about me and my life and I will be tender.

And that is ok.

I got to my place of being ok with it.

I got my small procrastination on and did my taxes.

Heh.

But mostly.

I just let myself be a student and I let myself be seen by myself with unconditional love and positive regard.

“You’re doing a good job, kid,” I said to myself this afternoon.

And you know what?

I am.


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