Posts Tagged ‘sexual abuse’

Overwhelm

August 24, 2020

I got hit with it yesterday.

I was on a Zoom call.

When am I not on a Zoom call?

I was going over the lesson plan with the former professor of the Psychodynamic’s class that I am teaching this fall at CIIS.

The class that starts next weekend.

And.

I got panicked.

We had been on the call for a while, an hour and half maybe, she’s also my supervisor, so I was also doing client work, it wasn’t all class prep.

But, the last half hour of it was and I suddenly felt myself totally start to lose it.

Like a slow motion melt.

I should have known.

I was wearing cat eye makeup with black eye liner.

Guaranteed to have an emotional moment and cry, I mean, duh, I should know by this point.

But.

Yeah.

Anyway.

I teared up, I got blown up, and overwhelmed and sort of lost it.

I said, “wait, stop, I don’t understand what you just told me.”

It sounded something like, “PDF, blah, blah, blah, download, blah, blah, blah, upload to Canvas, blah, blah, blah, blah blah, just sent it to you, blah, then you blah, blah, blah, and that’s it!  You’re all set.”

I literally had zoned out.

I am not a great tech genius.

I am ok.

I mean, hey I publish this blog.

Although half the time I just think of it as turning on a light switch, I don’t understand how electricity works, just that when I flip the switch the light turns on.

Same here.

I sit down, I type some stuff, I edit it for spelling mistakes and then I hit the “publish” button.

I have no clue how it works.

You probably know this.

I don’t have some spiffy amazing page.

I don’t understand back end stuff.

My back end is what I am sitting on in my chair.

Basically what was happening was the back end stuff for the platform the school uses for online learning.

Also.

Let me reflect that when I agreed to teach this we were not in shelter in place, there was no pandemic (although there were some weird things going on out in the world.  I do remember telling my supervisor that I felt like something big was going to happen. I thought maybe there would be a dot.com bust not a pandemic), I was going to be teaching in person, lecturing in front of a class.

NOT ON A ZOOM CALL.

Fuck.

So figuring out how to handle the class and transition to online teaching and making PowerPoints (why God why?) and uploading this and creating that.

And fuck.

Vomit.

Shit.

I am the wrong person for doing this.

I am not going to lie.

I wish I wasn’t teaching.

I wish I could just quit.

Technically I could quit.

California is an “at will” state.

I could get fired at any time and I can quit at any time.

However.

I just don’t think I can quit five days before the class starts.

I can be an asshole, but I’m not that much of an asshole.

Also.

Jesus fuck am I glad I did not accept the core faculty position.

The thought of having to do more work like the work I have been doing to prepare for this class makes me want to throw up with anxiety.

I already have enough anxiety.

Which was pretty obvious to me yesterday.

I love my therapy clients, but everyone of them is stressed to the max, hello pandemic, the current political situation, riots, economy in the tank, and oh yeah, the fires.

The world is literally and figuratively on fire.

I have had a low grade constant headache for the last four days.

I hate even complaining about it.

I”m safe in San Francisco, but the smoke is bad, I don’t have to evacuate my home like so many people I know.

My supervisor had to evacuate her home three days ago.

I don’t have problems.

I do have a headache though.

Currently in California there are 560 wild fires happening.

There’s a lot of smoke.

I made myself go for a walk yesterday despite the smoke.

I could only handle being inside for so long.

And.

Yeah, the overwhelm thing and me crying on a Zoom call with my anxiety about getting all the tech crap set up for the class and I was kaput.

I had intended on working on my dissertation proposal defense yesterday and I just had no juice left.

I mean none.

I called a bunch of friends and left messages and tried to focus on listening to others instead of whining about my stuff.

And then.

Oh.

The loveliest thing.

I connected with a friend who also was out for a walk and we literally happened to be three blocks from each other.

I hadn’t seen him since right before shelter in place and it made me want to cry.

He’s housesitting in my neighborhood!

We walked, socially distant, in our masks, through the smoky streets of the Mission District and caught up and laughed and joked about hugging, but we did not.

I felt a lot better.

Not good enough to give my proposal any work, but better.

Truth.

I haven’t worked on it today either.

Except in my mind and in my heart and in my psyche.

That’s my soul.

My PhD work is around healing sexual abuse trauma.

Mine in particular.

And it’s a lot to hold.

I just have to acknowledge that.

When I’m strong and resourced and the world isn’t on fire or in a pandemic or a crazed political state, I am able to do the work.

Right now.

The work is letting myself off the hook.

Resourcing with friends.

Breathing deep (inside my sealed house).

Sleeping eight hours a night.

Watching silly light hearted tv (Glee).

Sitting with my cat.

Calling friends.

I’ll get the proposal done (another PowerPoint, ugh again).

I will teach the class next week.

I will be great in them both.

Because I am smart and strong and I am a good teacher and I will make mistakes and that’s ok too.

I will show the fuck up.

As I know from showing up in the past.

It really is 90% of the work.

The rest is non-judgmentally allowing myself to teach without expectations of perfection.

I’m perfectly imperfect just the way I am.

Recognizing that is the work.

So.

Yeah.

My proposal.

It will get done and I will be ok.

Everything is going to be ok.

It really is.

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.

 


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