It’s a splendid Monday morning—if you’re inside. Already 30 degrees and soupy, it’s one of those rare times I appreciate air conditioning. I’m in my office ready for patients and starting to gather thoughts for this blog, which is very helpful when one loses the thread of one’s healing program!
It has taken me over a week to realize that I had relapsed into my old way of being, out of touch with myself, anxious, drained and fuzzy. And I was spiralling down towards some kind of black hole, hanging on by the skin of my teeth and becoming less functional by the day. Not that I was totally falling apart, my outside act was fairly intact, but inside I was unconsciously terrified that it would split and I wouldn’t be able to carry on. I’m so used to being like this that I didn’t notice that I was on automatic pilot.
Finally I was able to sit myself down and look at what was happening. It was simple: I had just overdone it, as I often do in the summer, trying to please everyone around me and extending far past the limits of my energy and ability to cope. From a positive angle, I had also been visiting friends, gone to a wedding and had a lot of fun with much less anxiety than usual. I just didn’t know when to stop—which is so common when people are recovering their energy! I remind myself of all the patients that I encourage to go slowly and gently, but when they experience energy again, it is so exhilarating, they go overboard and crash because they don’t have reserves built up yet. Sigh.
The interesting thing was how I responded to being exhausted. Instead of intelligently registering fatigue and taking steps to recharge, I became increasingly anxious and contracted. It was more important to live up to others’ expectations of me again than to take care of and be true to myself, a rather new behaviour for me. It was like getting sucked into a whirlpool and getting further and further away from my own centre every day, feeling too busy and overwhelmed to do my tapping and meditation. Only when the discomfort was at a high level was I forced to stop and sit down to process. As soon as I did this, the stuck state started to shift and I was able to start solving the problem. These relapses are a normal and almost inevitable part of healing—none of us heals in a straight line forward, including the doctors (maybe especially the doctors, grin).
There is a deeper insight this time around as well: when I lose my boundaries, let myself become drained and then have even weaker boundaries, I have less resistance to my underlying trauma, which in turn activates my fight or flight (or freeze) response even more than usual and keeps everything in stronger hypervigilant mode. It sends me the subconscious message that it is too dangerous to relax or even do a process that might lead to relaxing. It’s a negative feedback loop that requires conscious intervention to turn around.
In the last therapy session, we uncovered a part of me that has been almost totally hidden, a part that is ferociously angry at whatever happened. It is frightening to feel and is locked away with considerable tension. Although uncomfortable, it is major progress. This is the part that has been driving the constant avoiding of myself as well as the violent visions. I look forward to finding out how to work with this slowly and safely…
Now it’s evening and I am pleased to be on an upward track, having cancelled several activities and asked for help with providing Felix and friends some summer fun in these few weeks of sun and warmth. This should help Felix settle down too as he has been bouncing off my anxiety by acting out in various ways over the last week. He needs me to be calm and is a great motivator to get back on the wagon.
There were many more exciting adventures around this process of healing trauma over the month, one of which was gaining weight, complete with cellulite! But now it’s getting late and I’ll write about that in next month’s blog. Time to go to tap, breathe and sleep.
here’s to being gentle with ourselves…