Shifts

I put up a boundary with Stretch Guy and now it seems that has allowed me to soften into a comfortable sharing state with him. Funny how boundaries do that isn't it? Today, my emotional scale is more like a 5 than bouncing between want to go back to bed and sitting in a fog. I'm functional, feeling sadness and some release. I saw him this morning, partly because my right leg is seriously bothering me, and partly because yesterday morning I realized I need some support after the weekend I had interacting with my parents and all the shit that has surfaced because of that.

Walking into his office, the old nervousness was back. The clenching of my stomach and shaking. Once I was in his office and talking to him though, I felt safe to let it go. I felt sad and started crying as we were talking practically as soon as I got on the table. I've been so shut down for several weeks that a breakdown was inevitable I guess, and the trigger was interacting with my parents. I can't even get through a drop-off and pick up without being triggered in a bad way. It's like I still can't accept the way they are and I'm so sad and angry that it's this way. My dad barely said hello to me or S and my mom pulled the usual prattling on about nothing and acted offended when I didn't want something she offered. They were both passive aggressive at pick up, the usual "Thank you so much for letting us have them". I fucking hate that, partially because it's true and partially because it's this way because of the way they are. 

We talked, I cried for the first 1/2 hour and slowly started feeling better. There was a lot of sharing on both sides and it's funny to me now how I used snap-judgement on him so many months ago when he started probing. There are so many similarities in our experience and how both of us reacted to it that every time he says something that resonates with me, I'm - shocked isn't the word anymore, more like comforted. I know there's lots of people out there with similar stories and experiences, but again, I've been so shut down to expressing any of it to anyone except S that I've missed opportunities to connect. I'm slowly (snails pace) learning to express myself and ask for what I need and set boundaries. It was such an emotional appointment, the tears started flowing again at the end and he gave me a tight hug telling me not to give up.

The shifts are coming fast and furious now. The tears feel cleansing instead of a dam burst (had to :p). My back isn't as tight as it used to be. Stretch Guy made it a point to say he's noticed a shift in the last several weeks in me, that I'm talking more and flowing more and expressing myself and my needs more. 

It's exhausting and I need to move through it to get to the other side. Working when this happens is rough. Thankfully it's a slow week and I can focus on some tasks that have needed to get done that don't require interaction with others.

EMDR

Stretch, Network Chiropractic and EMDR. 

It's a wonder I can function right now.

I chose Therapist #3 based on a recommendation from my best therapist ever, who happily responds to my emails and updates even 3 years after I stopped seeing her. (for reference, she moved to another country). Therapist #3 is also awesome. I definitely made the right move, and after several sessions, I dived into EMDR. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. 

It SUCKS. I've done 2 sessions and it's been really rough both times. She uses tactile tappers that I hold in my hands while processing memories and feelings. I process for about 2 minutes and then tell her what is coming up. I chose a negative memory and feeling to start from in a previous appointment and went through an exercise to choose the "vessel" to put all the bad feelings into and a safe place to go through a visualization to close out the session. In the first session, memories came up that I often cycle through, it wasn't like anything really deep in my subconscious suddenly popped up.  It was hard to process and I completely broke down crying. After the session, I was drained and even the next day, didn't feel like I had a lot of energy. The second session was even worse. This time, I seemed to be fighting to even begin to move into memories and the first 2 rounds of the processing there wasn't much coming up. When I finally started talking about what was going on, I felt robotic and shut down. Moving into the subsequent rounds of processing, all these feelings came flooding through me and I started to break down. By the end, I was so raw and shaken that she commented she was a little bit worried about me. I struggled to really close out the session and walked out of the office feeling dazed. The next day I had scheduled a stretch session. That turned out to be for the best, because Stretch Guy opened up to me more and it felt so comforting to hear someone else articulate what I've been feeling and thinking. I still felt a little raw by what came up, and really needed support from someone who can relate. 

The insight from the first couple of EMDR sessions has brought to light that while I can logically and rationally understand that my childhood was less than ideal and certain actions by my parents kept me from really experiencing childhood, I have not been feeling the feelings. EMDR forced me to feel pain and sadness and shame and grief over how I protected myself. How I put on the blinders, tried to be the perfect daughter and student in order to win their love. I never rebelled. I never even thought to transfer universities to find out what it was I like or want to do. I just kept my head down and barreled through years of my life checking off the boxes and wondering why I wasn't happy like I perceive everyone else to be. 

I'm grieving the loss of my childhood and the exploration of who I wanted to become. I never had either one of those. 

Yet Another Modality - Network Chiropractic

One of the things Stretch Guy strongly encouraged me to do was go to a network chiropractor. I rejected his suggestion, especially when I found out I’d have to go 3x a week for a few months. Ugh. Then, the left side of my body completely rejected the stretch and I was in pain for a solid week. That gave Stretch Guy an opening to plead with me to try his chiropractor because as he put it, “I’m keeping you functional. We aren’t making progress.” That kind of argument, the one that appeals to my sense of logic, is one that I can’t resist. I caved. If it didn’t work, it’s just money, right? (a pile of money, but just money). I talked with my therapist about it, and it turns out she knows who Dr. M is and also encouraged me to go see him. There you have it, two professionals who don’t know each other encouraging me to see the same person. Well, ok then.

My first appointment with Dr. M was a typical patient intake. I filled out medical history forms, he sat down with me to talk about my answers and then he examined my back. He asked what my upbringing was like and after I told him about my mom he kind of laughed and said yep, that’s it. His conclusion is that my body is stuck in fright-flight meaning my sympathetic nervous system is constantly on and my parasympathetic nervous system (the one that calms you down) doesn’t work. I got x-rays on my neck and went in a couple days later for a follow-up and to start treatment. My neck x-rays show my neck is extended and my head pushed forward and he talked about all the subluxations in my cervical spine (mis-alignment of the vertebrae), which I can’t find any reference to except in the chiropractic world so I take that with a boulder of salt. Anyway, then he did an adjustment on my back and talked me through it so that I could get used to how it works. It is WEIRD. He barely touches my back, and does none of the traditional chiropractic adjustments. The adjustments feel like brushing, or a slight push on muscles along the spine.  Then he walks away for a couple minutes, comes back, checks the back again and does it again in the same areas or different areas depending on what he observes. This goes on for about a half hour. The idea is to encourage my back muscles to learn how to relax.  I am fully aware that this could be quackery, but after all the weird things that have been happening with my body, I’m on-board with the idea of the mind-body connection profoundly affecting my life and causing health issues.

When I went back to Stretch Guy after a month of doing the network, he was practically giddy about the fact that my back no longer felt like a brick wall to him. It’s not even that much better and I still keep having problems with my neck and shoulders. I’ve felt like depression is worse too. I haven’t really recovered from the downward spiral I had over vacation and over the past week I’ve made the decision to go back up to a full dose of cel.exa. It wasn’t the time to try to stop as it turns out.

I’ve been seeing Dr. M for about two months now and I can attest that something is happening. I’ve been crying at random times, and now that I’ve started back up with yoga tearing up during savasana is a regular thing. I seem to be having weird dreams, although they aren’t vivid so I’m not remembering them. Lately, on the chiropractic table, sensations are getting stronger. A couple of times I flat out fell asleep. That would be fine except for the part that lying on my stomach in a face cradle, I totally snore myself awake, and with other patients in the room, I’m super self-conscious. Now I’m actively trying NOT to fall asleep. A couple of times I felt waves moving through my body, which was one of the oddest sensations I’ve ever felt during any kind of work. Most of the time, I get bored and worry about face cradle creases.

I've had a follow-up discussion with Dr. M and he says my back is looser, but I'm still having trouble working out. I haven't been able to lift weights for months and my hands go numb when I bike. It's so frustrating and I just want to be better. Patience is not one of my strong points.

There's So Far to Go

Things have been kind of ok'ish with my mom, well, not really, but I've been trying mightily to be ok with interactions. Protect myself by not ever telling her anything important, and let my kids see her and my dad. I keep telling myself that they are good grandparents, I haven't noticed them doing anything to my kids that is off-side and it is helpful to get them to watch the kids now and again. 

But...my birthday and Mother's Day was the WORST. My youngest brother graduated as a Pharmacist and if I didn't go to his graduation, I would have been the only one who didn't.  Ever dutiful, I told myself, no big deal, I'll just drag myself and my kids out to lovely Nebraska for a one night trip. First, an early morning flight, then getting there only to find out my mom was dictating the schedule and there was no downtime in it. We had lunch at 1pm then had less than an hour to get ready to go to the hooding ceremony, and the most I managed to do was lay down for 10 min. My kids didn't rest mind you, just me, desperately trying to regroup. Z fell asleep for most of the hooding ceremony on the bleachers. X and my niece played in the hallway, typical right? Kids can't sit through these things. After the ceremony I tried to figure out how to handle dinner. I wanted to hit up a supermarket, but my kids were DONE, and so, I discovered how valuable overpriced hotel food is. Especially when you can get it delivered to your room! My mom was surprised to see that I wasn't dragging my kids out to an 8:15pm dinner reservation, despite the fact that I told her multiple times we probably wouldn't be able to make it. What did she do? She volunteered me to watch my 5 year old niece while everyone else went out to dinner. By the time this exchange came around, I had given up. Even though I should have told my brother that I couldn't watch his kid, I didn't. I caved and it made everything worse, because of course he didn't get back until 10pm to pick her up. The next day dawned with me waking up exhausted, wondering what the fuck was I thinking and trying to figure out how to kill time before going to the airport in the afternoon. Naturally, the weather sucked so I couldn't even go to the zoo for the day, which had been my plan, and I started to break down. There was yelling, there was obstinance, there was threatening to drive around all damn day unless X got dressed. We were actually in the car with him in his pajamas and I was at the end of my rope when it finally dawned on me to give him a choice. He could choose to get dressed and we could meet everyone for lunch, or he could choose not to get dressed and we could drive around until it was time to go to the airport. Amazing how a little Love and Logic (which I hadn't been using all morning) worked. In hindsight, he probably needed to know the plan instead of me demanding he get his damn clothes on and brush his teeth. Yep, probably could have de-escalated the situation and made my morning easier. Ultimately, we met for lunch, then I and my kids went to the Children's Museum while my parents went to the Art Museum. 

We got home that night and after a couple glasses of wine, S dealing with the kids and putting them to bed, I completely broke. So much crying. So much ugly crying. So much shame. 

I woke up on Mother's Day still feeling like shit, puffy eyed and pounding headache. X wanted to bring me breakfast in bed and sweetly orchestrated the whole deal. So, I got breakfast in bed, but I was still so upset that I couldn't enjoy it. S gave me a pass to do whatever I wanted (although he practically ordered me to get on my bike). I rode 33 miles with a splitting headache, but I made it!  When they came home from visiting S's parents, I still wasn't in a good frame of mind. S left the house for 20 minutes to get food and in that 20 minutes I managed to have a throwdown with an almost 7 year old. I couldn't keep my head straight, I said things I knew were damaging. I yelled. I cried. I hid in my room. I said things that could have come straight out of my mother's mouth. Things I never thought I would ever say to my child. More crying. More shame. Apologies. Explanations. 

Stretch Guy helped show me I have more work to do. He recognized the stress in my body long before I was ready to admit what it was. He pushed me to consider different ways of dealing with it, and here I am, beginning to deal with it, but in the meantime, I feel like I'm damaging my kid in the process. Network chiropractic work is flat out weird, but something is happening. The way it's done, it's like nothing - I barely feel Dr. M touching different areas on my back. Six weeks into the work and I've gone from skeptic to, well...maybe this is working? I'm also starting EMDR with therapist #3. I was supposed to do it last week, but was riding the high from fighting against my avoidant attachment tendencies and getting to the space where I actually connected with Stretch Guy so we talked about that. I didn't think I had to talk about my mom in all of that because it was supposed to be an annoying, but doable trip, not the emotional breakdown that it was.

There's so far to go. Therapist told me I'll probably be on an emotional roller coaster as we move through all these different avenues of healing, but she's all for it. EMDR and the network should compliment each other in healing trauma. Stretch Guy is there to be a source of support. I do a decent job of telling X what I'm doing and when I lose my shit I do my best to own it as my problem, not his. But I'm still losing my shit. And he's still having the occasional scary tantrum as he tries to keep control of situations. We are in a shitty place.

I have a stupid amount of work travel in the next several weeks, and juggling my projects while traveling is a source of stress. Trying to see Dr. M 3x a week for 3 months is stressful. Seeing Therapist every other week is stressful. Squeezing in a stretch session once a month is stressful. I need all three of those things right now and there aren't enough hours in the day. I wish I had one of those totally mundane and boring jobs so that I can focus on my mental health and healing. Too bad I can't get that for a few months. 

 

I Was Vulnerable and it was Glorious

Recently, Stretch Guy crossed a line and triggered me in a bad way. The boundaries between me and him have been fuzzy ever since I broke down and have been a source of stress as I tried to figure out the line between being vulnerable and protecting myself. He would suggest different avenues for me to check out and I would dutifully say ok then go home, dive down professor Google and decide x, y, z are not for me. Then I wouldn't bring it up again. Well, maybe once I resisted, but mostly I'd just think, naw, that's for him, not me. The latest episode came when I was at a conference and we had been exchanging some e-mails around the network chiropractic care I agreed to try at his (strong) suggestion. In a reply, he invited me to a graduation of sorts from a workshop/retreat thing he did. He used all the words that make me squirm, "transformational, powerful, incredible" and I felt like I was punched in the gut. When he suggested Wo.man.Ki.nd to me, I looked into it, decided hard pass and laughed about how he is totally not picking up on my personality. When I got this latest suggestion, I fell down a black hole of wondering why I ever started trusting him and thinking it may be time to fire him. Poor S had to listen to me cry about how Stretch Guy says he wants to help but what. the. actual. fuck. I actually felt heartbroken and sad that I was facing a decision that I had been trying really hard to avoid. He had helped me. He had been consistent. And now, it was like he was trying to recruit me.

I started a draft e-mail that was scathing and full of hurt. I deleted it. I breathed. I gave myself time to process and then drafted another response that simply said I appreciated he thought of me, but it was not my thing. Then, I asked if he could meet me outside of his office. 

When we met at the coffee shop several days later, I had time to process my reaction to his invitation, I wrote out things that helped me identify where the trigger was (feeling like someone was telling me they know better what I need than I do), and how it tied to shame in some areas. I had contemplated starting out by pulling out my newly acquired Color Energies wheel and pointing out where I fall then asking him why the hell he'd think I'd be even remotely interested in sitting around with a bunch of people talking about feelings of all things. Eventually I decided against that opening, but had the printout in case I had to browbeat him into acknowledging that no I would not be open to beating a goddamn drum in the woods or sitting around waiting to be transformed as someone talks at me about awareness. (I'm judging, I know). With my mind still focused on what. the. actual. fuck. I decided to go with a different tack.

I told him how I feel.

I told him he's pushing my boundaries and I don't like it. 

He APOLOGIZED.

And then we had a really good and open conversation. And I felt lighter the whole rest of the day. And I have an appointment with him today. I don't feel anxious. I don't feel nervous. This will be the first time I've walked into his office without anxiety following me. 

You guys. 

I think I trust him.

Who knew?

Not Rational

Before getting into it, I need to bring up the fact that my iPad brought up a rat emoji when I was typing the word rational. heh.

A recent conversation with my new therapist, Therapist #3, for those keeping track, centered around attachment and vulnerability. In one of her Ted Talks, Brene Brown talks about how she came around to the idea of vulnerability being a good thing rather than something to squash. The thing she said that made me practically shout that’s me! “...vulnerability pushed and I pushed back”. And that, my dear readers is how my life has been going ever since my first appointment with Stretch Guy.  I had already started exploring the idea of learning vulnerability as a good thing, in a logical-rational-engineering kind of way. As in, if I can learn how to be vulnerable, then I will be successful in relationships at work and personal life. Therapist #2 was helping me work on bringing down the wall in a similarly rational and logical way, and it wasn't working that well.  The introduction of Stretch Guy into my life propelled me into a massive emotional breakdown and forced me to choose door 1) run like hell or 2) trust that he can help me. We all know I chose 2) despite the many times I've looked for reasons to run through 1). Oh, and there have been sooo many internal struggles with staying.  Despite my slow journey to trusting him, he never disappoints in support level, always the cheerleader, always willing to share

 In my talk with Therapist #3, I expressed utter confusion about how to translate being vulnerable with Stretch Guy into real life relationships. That's when she said it's NOT RATIONAL, I can't distill vulnerability into a neat little learning package and then apply to other areas of my life. Maybe it makes sense why I keep swirling in uncertainty and fear. 

#MicroblogMondays: UGH, Meds

I've had it with Cele.xa after being on it for several years. (5?) I know it's helped level me out, but I've also made a lot of progress with therapy and life is generally even at the moment. 

Maybe here is where I should mention I'm starting somatic therapy perhaps with EMDR. Yep, I finally found a new therapist and had my first appointment last week. Maybe this isn't the time to come off the drug? Probably not, but I'm not sure it's working as well as it used to (anxiety is up), I've had to be on Prilosec for several years because it gives me major acid reflux and I'm sick of that. Lastly, if I'm being brutally honest. It's not helping my mental health to have 10 extra pounds on my frame that will NOT COME OFF. Besides, depression for me isn't major, it's more of a low level clinical thing that has to be managed, but there's got to be a better way than pharmaceuticals. 

Here goes an experiment: I started CBD oil over the weekend (reminds me of taking Chinese herb remedies that taste like dirt. ugh), and I'm going to take magnesium and fish oil regularly (so bad about consistency there). I'm taking 15mg of Celexa as of last week after first trying to cut it in half to 10mg, but that made me dizzy. At 15mg, so far, I'm having some brain fog and constant nausea. Awesome.

This should be a fun ride. 

 

 

Building Trust

In a recent stretch appointment, the crap started surfacing again. I’ve been going regularly for about a year and after the initial emotional breakdowns prompting a couple of conversations with Stretch Guy, I've settled into learning to trust him and building my comfort level. A couple of appointments ago, the conversation turned more personal again and he shared more with me about his story.

Feeling understood is something I don't seem to receive very often. Or, I don’t let anyone in close enough (S notwithstanding) to even give them a chance. I keep trying out this vulnerability thing with Stretch Guy and it's a seriously uncomfortable slog. When I pulled back a little, after the couple of conversations we had around my emotional reactions, nothing came up during sessions. This last time, after a couple sessions where I started saying things, feelings rooted in attachment bubbled up, as always really coming up when I’m most vulnerable in the session, the shoulder work. I never feel particularly vulnerable when my arms are free, even if he is all up in my business stretching hips and back. But when arms are bound, I feel completely helpless. In this particular session, there was another stretch that requires him to put himself in a precarious position. It was like one huge trust fall for the last 30 minutes. 

I almost cried. Almost. a little shaking, a few tears in my car, then nothing. It feels like I need to, but it’s not quite there yet. I have such a hard time processing all of this, and several days later I'm trying to work through emotions that came up, a constant stream of thoughts in my head wondering about why I react, how I react, is this ok? Is this what it's supposed to feel like to be vulnerable? How the hell do people do it????

While I wish I could turn off the constant chatter in my head (hi anxiety!), maybe this is just part and parcel of the process? Maybe this whole trust/vulnerability thing takes a hell of a lot longer than I thought. Or hoped. 

0.5 #NaBloMoPo Day 6 - Dusting Off a Draft Post

Several months ago I wrote this post and for sone reason never hit the publish button. Without further ado, here it is:

Recently, I wrote about my emotional reaction to fascial stretching, and last week was the appointment where I (against every fiber in my being) had a vulnerable, open conversation with Stretch Guy. It was a draining session between having the conversation and letting the tears come when I was on the table.

Before I was able to finish the post I started writing, this phone call came.

I have never believed that things happen for a reason and when they are supposed to. I didn't believe it about infertility, or becoming a parent to our kids. I have always been able to rationalize that if it weren't X and Z, it would be other kids. I really don't think that they found us or we found them.

This, though. The stretching, the trusting a stranger to help and support me, and then the very next day getting a phone call that has rocked my world, THAT seems to have happened for a reason. If the phone call came 10 years ago, I doubt I'd be open to the conversation. If the phone call came 5 years ago, I would have been in the throes of adoption journeys and infertility grief. It came after I've done a shit ton of therapy and figuring out how I feel about what happened to me, my mother's shame that kept us from bio-dad and extended family, and my father's complicitness in going along with her charade.

Through it all, S has been a rock, holding me in the kitchen as I randomly break down, sitting on the couch when me as I cradle my coffee staring at the floor seeing nothing. Listening and not judging me as I work through all my complicated feelings and try to figure out what to do next.

I can't ever say my life has been dull.

#MicroblogMondays - Depression

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I'm depressed. 

I'm medicated.

It's not a magic bullet.

I was trying to explain to S what depression feels like, because all my family sees right now is me not happy and on edge. I spent the entire summer dealing with anxiety with the buying of a house, selling of a house, and all of it not on my preferred timeline. Now that it's done, we've moved in, we've sold the other house, we've put the money back in S's IRA, recast the mortgage loan with the proceeds of our house sale....it's flipped. Depression is back in a big way. I spend a lot of time in my head trying to reframe and give myself a break, and I'm less than successful. I spend a lot of time wanting/needing/craving a break from life in general.  I took Friday off of work in the name of self care to watch movies while editing X's school directory, paint my nails and ride my bike. That was great, but the house was still a disorganized mess that needs to be cleaned. I swear it won't feel like it's my house until I have everything where I want it, and it looks like a mid-mod style freaking Nor.man Rock.well painting. As if that will cure the depression once and for all. I know it won't, but it's one thing I can control. 

The hard part about depression is that it never goes away. When I started therapy 4 years ago I thought I just needed help through a life transition. Then there was a name put to my symptoms. Then there was medication. Then I worked on a lot of crap. Then she moved. Then I took a break and things were pretty good. Then I needed more therapy. Two years into that therapy, I'm figuring out that I will be living with this for the rest of my life and I'll never be "cured". Medication takes the edge off and evens me out, it doesn't stop the thoughts. The imposter feeling, the inner critic telling me I'm not good enough. That is present 100% of the time.