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Courageous Yoga Chick

Overcoming PTSD and Self-Injury Through Yoga

Life Before Yoga – Read This First

“My name is Jennifer, and I’m an alcoholic.” The words rolled off my tongue so smoothly, you would’ve thought I had been sitting in AA meetings for years. The truth was, it was my very first meeting, and I was so scared that I was literally shaking. It was August 1, 2012. It is a date that will forever be engrained into my mind.

I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be “sober” at that moment, but I also knew that I had to do something to escape the hell that was in my head. I had spent the previous year trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, fighting with my husband, and drinking. Now drinking wasn’t anything new in my life. I drank for the first time at the ripe old age of 12 and that phenomena of craving that they talk about in AA meetings was instant. Sitting in the Virgin Islands with my parents, waiting for them to walk away so I could have “just one more sip” of my mom’s daiquiri. Ha! If you have ever spent time with an alcoholic, you know that there is no such thing as “just one more sip.”

As I sat in that very first AA meeting (12 years after taking my first sip of alcohol), I reflected on my drinking. I had spent most of my teenage years drinking and drugging, but once I went to college, I tried to keep things mostly together and only drank occasionally. Of course every time I drank, it was always excessive. Gradually I drank more and more frequently and by 24, I was sitting in the rooms of AA wondering if I really needed to be sitting in this circle of crazy women. But I ended up having a lot more in common with those crazy women than I originally thought, and they told me to keep coming back….so I did.

Unfortunately, drinking wasn’t my only addiction. Believe it or not, most people in AA don’t fall into that “pure alcoholic” category – many of us have other addictions. Mine just happens to be one of the most taboo topics out there, even in 2016! Self-injury. Yep. That’s right. I’m a “cutter.” Ugh – “cutter” – a word that makes me cringe. It isn’t who I am, it’s what I do (or did) to cope with the emotions that I don’t want to feel. In all honesty, I’ve been self-injuring since I was just a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old. It started with wrist-banging and hitting myself, and by the time I was 14 I had started cutting when life became too overwhelming. 14 years later, it’s still an addiction that I struggle with. But every day I go without it gets a little bit easier. Today is day 217 by the way…but who’s counting?

There are a number of reasons that people self-injure or drink or use drugs. For me, it is about numbing. It has always been about numbing. The things that I have been through in my life were truly tragic. I am a survivor of severe sexual abuse that lasted from the time I was about 5 years old until I was 11; sexual abuse that I never really disclosed to anyone until I was 27. In addition to that, I witnessed some pretty intense domestic violence growing up. Alcoholism runs in my family. I also grew up in a household with minimal to no emotional support. I am not writing this to get your sympathy. I am writing this because all of these circumstances and experiences factor into why I have “Complex” PTSD. This blog will hopefully help other people who have had similar experiences.

I have spent the last 15 years of my life in and out of therapy (and done some pretty intensive dialectical behavior therapy); I’ve been on various medications for depression and anxiety;  and I’ve used a variety of coping skills, healthy and unhealthy. In 2015, I started seeing a therapist whom I would disclose all of the details of my traumatic experiences to. In order to help me through the process, she suggested we incorporate yoga into our work (she was going through yoga teacher training at the time). Through yoga, I have learned to thrive. I have learned what it means to truly find inner-peace, love myself, and show compassion. I am different today because of yoga. I want this blog to showcase my experiences and help others who struggle with PTSD. 

 

 

Image from Quotesgram.com

 

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It Happened To Me: May 12th Thai Massage

Today was a Thai Massage day. Physically, my body needed Thai. It’s been a stressful few weeks at work, and then I traveled in a car for a total of 14 hours in the past two days. Not to mention, it’s Mother’s Day and I deserve some self-care just for being a mom.

I will say, in terms of Mother’s Days, this one was probably the best so far. My daughter made me a card, candle votive, and decorative plate at school. Then, her dad got me this super cool bracelet that is made from recycled plastic and glass that is cleaned out of the ocean, and a gift card for a much-needed pedicure. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything. It was a really nice surprise to be acknowledged for my hard work as a mom though.

I’ve had the same trauma memory surface a couple of times the past week or so. In Thai today, that same memory came up. Capture the flag. I’m running through the woods and he is chasing me. He pushes me down on the ground. The whole world is green and he hurts me.

He hurts ME.

The key word. Me. It happened to Me. Not to anyone else. Not to the little girl that I see but can’t save. To Me. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. These memories are mine. They are a part of me.

The memory was terrifying when it came up. My whole body filled with fear – the same fear that I felt when I was little. It made my tummy hurt. When the memory ended, I was left with a feeling of rage.

It’s not fair. I hate him for what he did to me. I hate that it continues to haunt me. I hate that the torment continues more than 20 years later in the form of triggers and flashbacks. I hate that he is still hurting me.

I didn’t take a long break today when the memory ended. Instead, I allowed my instructor to continue working on my legs after I took a few cleansing breaths. I talked to her about the anger I feel. I explained that I used to just feel sad when my trauma memories came up, but now I feel a range of emotions that include fear, anger, sadness, and confusion. All of my memories begin with something “fun” and “harmless,” and end up being a torturous nightmare. I hate him for destroying the playfulness of childhood for me, and I hate the adults who enabled it.

Not all of the massage was trauma-focused. In fact, only a small portion was. I talked at length about my relationship with my boyfriend and how well it is going. Unlike any of my other previous relationships, the basis for this one is trust and transparency. We can both share with each other our most intimate thoughts without fear of rejection or judgment. It’s actually the first relationship I’ve ever been in where I wasn’t afraid to say, “I love you.” This level of trust and communication has been incredibly supportive for me when it comes to my mental health issues. I know that whatever is going on, I can openly share with him how I am feeling and he will not try to “fix it,” but will simply listen and be supportive.

In addition, my instructor shared about some things that have been going on in her life recently. One of my favorite things about the time I spend with her is how much I learn from just listening to her speak. Today was no exception. While describing a situation in her life, she was able to model exactly what I strive to do: make decisions based on what is going to feel most supportive for me and what I need. I sometimes struggle with this in my career, my boundaries with others, and in my past relationships. To see my instructor living her life from a place of “what is best for me” was so inspiring. It looks like doing the things that align with your core values and desires, even if they may feel hard or scary or sad or uncomfortable.

My body feels better after Thai today. I feel calmer than I’ve felt in several days. I also feel confident in my recent choices in my career and relationships. I’ll be traveling to Spain in a few weeks for a yoga retreat with this same instructor. I am trying to limit the amount of trauma stuff that is on the surface between now and then. My hope is that I’ll be able to go and remain in the present moment, savoring all that the world has to offer.

The Purpose of Life

It has been almost two weeks since I had the big “Purpose of Life Conversation” with my yoga teacher/Thai Massage Instructor/life coach/friend. I had originally set up this one-time life coaching session with her at the recommendation of my therapist. I was struggling with suicidal thoughts in April, and I did not feel like my life really mattered. It seemed like the logical solution would be to kill myself. If I succeeded, then the suffering would end.

Sometimes, I become so overwhelmed by how much I have to do to be “ok.” It feels like every day I have to work so hard just to get out of bed, function, go to work, be a single mom, etc. Some days, I am just too exhausted to do that. That’s where I was in April. It was too hard to continue to care for myself and make it through the everyday grind that I just wanted to die. I didn’t see the point of continuing to work hard – it doesn’t matter anyway. No one would care if I died. 

The Purpose of Life Conversation began with a discussion about my core commitments. I wasn’t really sure what that meant at first, but the longer I sat with it, the easier it was to come up with what I am truly committed to. My core commitments (in no particular order) are as follows:

  • Self-care
  • Grace
  • My job
  • Being a mom
  • Learning
  • Being available for the people in my tribe
  • In the hour-long discussion, my life-coach-etcetera and I worked through what is most evident, most pervasive, within those commitments. The answer? 
  • Love.
  • I sat with that for several seconds, minutes, hours, and days.

    Love is my purpose. 

    Everything that I am committed to comes from a place of love. Love is woven throughout the core beliefs, values, and actions that make up who I am and what I stand for. I can remember my Reiki Instructor telling me on multiple occasions that I am “a conduit for love and light.” Her words rang in my mind as I sat curled up in a teal velvet chair discussing the purpose of my life with my life-coach-etcetera.

    In the dictionary, Love means feeling a deep affection or attachment to something.

    I am a Pisces. By nature, I love deeply. I experience all emotions deeply, but especially love.

    Some of my favorite synonyms for Love include: devotion, passion, rapture, sentiment, and adoration.

    During situations of stress or chaos these past two weeks, I have tried to maintain a focus on “what would Love do,” or imagine myself responding to situations from a place of Love. I have not always done this perfectly, and that is ok. I have had moments of frustration and struggle. However, I have allowed myself the grace to feel those frustrated feelings and move on or start over.

    If I were living with Love as my life’s purpose, things would be different, particularly in terms of how I treat myself and others. This has been a slow process these past two weeks, and one that I will continue to work towards. Looking at things from the vantage point of Love has prompted me to engage in more of the things that I enjoy, and put forth more effort into things like my job, parenting, etc. I am reaching out to friends a little bit more. I am eating regular meals three times a day. I am refraining from hurting myself with rubber bands or scratching at my wrist, even on the particularly difficult days. I am also just more aware of the negative thoughts that arise on a daily basis, and shaping them into thoughts that come from a place of Love instead.

    One of the things that surfaced for me during this very deep conversation about the purpose of my life was how differently I would be towards myself if Love were my purpose. The biggest takeaway that I had was that self-care would be an act of kindness as opposed to an obligation. Self-care is wonderful, but sometimes it feels like a chore. And when I am working so hard to just make it through the day, the last thing I want to do is make it through a yoga class, or cook dinner for myself, or any of those other “self-care rituals” that I have. However, self-care really isn’t about doing things that I don’t want to do; self-care is about Loving myself enough so that I can show up and be present for my core commitments. It is difficult to approach parenting from a place of love if I am not treating myself with love. It is like those oxygen mask demonstrations on airplanes: if you do not have your own oxygen mask on, you cannot really help save someone else’s life.

    Overall, I felt like the Purpose of Life Conversation was insightful. I have not had any real suicidal thoughts since then. I did have a meltdown a few days ago, where I was overwhelmed with work and single-mom life. I cried off and on for most of the day. However, I did use my healthy coping skills. I did not hurt myself in any way. And, the next day, things felt better. I am looking forward to more little successes like this one as I continue to employ Love as the purpose of my life.

    Updates

    I haven’t written in quite a while. I still need to blog about the purpose of life conversation that I had two weeks ago, but that will not happen right now.

    I am feeling overwhelmed with life. I’m in the process of changing jobs and over these next four weeks, I am working excessive amounts, trying to make as smooth of a transition as possible. So far, everything that can go wrong with this new job has…. it’s been one road block after another. I am constantly wondering if this is the right move for me.

    This week, my ex’s schedule changed unexpectedly. Well, it wasn’t entirely unexpectedly, but we both thought he would be able to get the schedule fixed so that it did not impact our custody arrangement. While I love having my daughter with me, it has been a challenge this week to balance all of the stress of my jobs and also parent my energetic five year old with love. I need to do better. Yesterday, I got so stressed out that I went into my bathroom, closed the door, sat on the floor with my dog, and sobbed. It’s the first time since my separation that I have felt the need to do that. I didn’t want my daughter to see my tears. I didn’t want her to know that I was struggling to stay afloat.

    After completing 3 major projects for work last night, I felt better. I still have a lot to do, but I felt like I was finally close to the surface. For the most part, I slept well last night and awoke this morning before my alarm.

    Due to time and money, I am cutting back my therapy sessions. This is also a big adjustment for me. For a brief moment in January, I cut back to once every 10 days. This did not work. I am hoping that I handle it better this time. I am also cutting back on my nutritionist and Thai Massage. My new job comes with a pay cut, and until I get a better idea of my finances, I have to scale back on some of my self-care items.

    And finally, I’m in a serious, committed relationship with the guy I dated my senior year of high school. Things are going well with that. It is a long-distance relationship, so I don’t get to see him as often as I would like. However, when I do see him, my whole soul knows that it is exactly where I am meant to be.

    I know my next four weeks are going to be very hectic. I will do my best to update my readers. Sending you all so much love 💜

    Seven-Year-Old Me: April 24th Thai Massage

    Today I had Thai Massage and a single life coaching session on the purpose of my life – all with the same instructor. This particular post is just going to talk about the Thai Massage. I will save the coaching session for another post.

    While in Disney World several weeks ago, I had a flashback of a “new” memory. This is not a memory that had ever come up for me before, and it was triggered by walking through Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Land was filled with giant replicas of common children’s toys. There were life-sized army men, which were triggering, but I already had that memory. There were also giant replicas of Tinker Toys. These were enough to trigger a massive flashback in the middle of the Disney park. I stood, frozen, as the pieces of memory jumbled together in my brain.

    I have since worked on that memory by talking to my therapist about it, writing it down, reading the memory to my therapist, processing it in restorative yoga, blogging about it, and talking to my therapist about it again. Historically, Thai has been helpful at prompting my body and mind to process the memory.

    Our session today began with my feet. I was anxious for the session, and I instantly felt my body tense up and pull back as my instructor touched me. This doesn’t happen often anymore, so I was a little surprised. I think I was afraid of this memory coming up in Thai because I do not have all of the pieces. It’s like: I can feel there is more to the memory, but I cannot see it – I do not know what the missing pieces are. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to know. It doesn’t change anything. The abuse is all similar and it all still happened whether I remember it or not.

    As my instructor worked up my legs, my eyes caught the big green tree and the bright blue sky out the window. The sky is so blue today, and everything turns green as I feel his hands on my thighs. Not today, I thought, I have another memory to work today. 

    I shoved the memory back down, knowing that it would soon be safe to focus on the new memory. As my instructor worked on my right leg, I could feel the room shift. I am little. Seven? Maybe eight? I can’t see. I can’t see and I’m scared. I can feel it happening but I can’t see it. I have to see. I have to know what’s happening. Why can’t I see?

    This time, the memory is happening to me, not to a little girl that I watch from across the room. This memory doesn’t hurt, but I can still feel the abuse happening. It doesn’t hurt but it feels strange — icky. Yes, it feels icky. I can see my abuser sitting at my feet, the Tinker Toys lined up. I can’t remember what happens next. I don’t know what happens to seven-year-old Little Jen, but I know that she isn’t safe. I am not safe. 

    As the memory came up, my Thai instructor asked me questions. I am pretty sure I answered them. Unlike some of my other memories, I think I did articulate the entire thing. When I was done, I rolled onto my side. I wanted to cry. I felt so sad for the little girl that was me. But I could not make the tears fall – not really. I sat up. I scanned the room but somehow I couldn’t see my instructor. I began to panic. She’s left. I looked behind me a second time and still didn’t see her. She left me. The seven-year-old in me was terrified. I turned to lay back down and, out of the corner of my eye, saw my instructor folded over at my feet. Ok. It’s ok. I’m ok. I breathed deeply. My instructor asked me if I needed a hug. I said yes. I clung to her for what felt like a really long time. My body filled with sadness for my seven-year-old self. I am so sorry I could not keep you safe. I am so, so sorry. 

    As I let go of my instructor, she asked me what I needed. Can you press on my back? I made this request because it typically feels very grounding and helps me to become present again. Today, something a little different happened though. As I laid on my stomach and felt the weight of my instructor pressing into my back, I felt seven. I had felt seven a few moments before, but I felt seven and afraid. When I was laying on my stomach, I felt seven… just seven… not like the abused girl in the memory. I could see my seven year old self laying on the mat, and my instructor pressing on her back. I could also see my seven year old self smiling. Then, I saw her doing all of the things that she loves to do, and all of the things that she is good at. Because she is good at a lot of things, not just things revolving around sex and secrets.

    Seven-year-old Little Jen has shoulder-length brown hair, bangs, and glasses. She is the fastest female runner in the entire second grade. She is the second fastest student… second to a boy named Lee. She loves science, and Santa brings her a microscope for Christmas. She also loves math and is very good with numbers. Seven-year-old Little Jen likes Tweety Bird, overalls, Polly Pockets, and Ace of Base. She likes to rollerblade, ride bikes with her friends, and play Zelda with the boys who live down the street. Those boys are nice – they don’t hurt her.

    My mind filled with all of these wonderful things about the girl that I was when I was seven – the girl in the memory. As my instructor started to massage my belly and my arms, I talked to her about the girl that I was when I was seven. There was so much more to me than these horrific trauma memories. She was so much more than the abuse she endured. 

    It is easy to lose sight of that. It is easy to feel like a victim, like my whole life has been ruined by what happened to me. But that really is not the case. I was strong and courageous in lots of ways at age seven, many of which have nothing to do with the abuse I experienced. When I was seven, I was, first and foremost, a human being. And because of that, I was worthy of being treated like one. Just because that isn’t what happened doesn’t mean I didn’t deserve to be treated with the same love, kindness, dignity, and respect that other human beings receive. In Thai today, my seven-year-old self soaked up all of that love, kindness, dignity, and respect as she shared her story and talked about not just the abuse, but also all of the things that made her unique and special. Today, I love seven-year-old Little Jen. She was a pretty amazing kid.

    Preparing For A Packed Day

    Tomorrow will be a busy day.

    I will meet with a new therapist for my daughter to begin seeing. She started seeing a therapist just before her third birthday at the recommendation of her pediatrician after she exhibited signs of anxiety. We have moved to the other side of town, and my daughter had made progress, so we ended things with that therapist after a year and a half. It’s been about 6-8 months since my daughter has been in therapy. She is now displaying signs of anxiety again. I have found a therapist close to home for her to begin seeing. I am hopeful it helps.

    I also have a “purpose of life” conversation scheduled with my Thai Instructor. She happens to also be a life coach, and my therapist recommended I have this specific conversation with her. I am still struggling with suicidal thoughts. It’s been about two or three weeks now. I am getting to a place of just accepting them as being a present thing in my life right now, and not acting on them.

    In addition, I have Thai Massage tomorrow night. This specific session will focus on the new memory. My therapist is eager for me to have this session because she feels it will bring me closure. I am worried that it might stir things up a bit. However, I am confident that I will be ok and that my instructor will provide me the support I need.

    Off to bed now. Tomorrow will be a busy, packed day of work and therapies.

    Trauma Memories And Yoga

    I am lying on my yoga mat. Class has just begun. The entire class has been instructed to lay in a bridge-prep type of pose as the teacher talks about noticing the breath. I am laying in my bridge-prep, eyes closed, envisioning my stomach rise and fall with each breath. Suddenly, there is a sharp pain between my legs. It is similar to the pain I feel when trauma memories come up. I open my eyes. I cannot see anything at all. The world is black and the room sounds fuzzy. I start to panic. Then the pain abruptly stops. I see the boy who hurts me sitting at my feet. I gasp and roll onto my side, curling my feet in away from him. My instructor’s voice echoes in my head and I realize that I am not in the den at my dad’s house, I am in the yoga studio. The boy who hurts me isn’t here. I am safe. 

    This is what happened to me yesterday morning in one of my favorite yoga classes. The memory that has been taunting me for the last week came to fruition. I am still confused by the memory, but at least I know what happened now. In the beginning of the memory, I couldn’t see. I am not sure if that is because my eyes were closed or if it was because my face was covered. In my yoga class, I realized that the memory occurred at my dad’s house, a piece that I did not recall before. I also identified with the sheer terror that I felt in those moments of abuse. I was terrified. 

    I chose to go to restorative yoga last night to help process the memory further. My therapist teaches the restorative class that I attend, which is sometimes helpful. I told her before class that I would be utilizing the time to process the memory. I told her I would not be taking any poses on my back. She understood and let me be so that I could do what I needed to do.

    In my restorative twist, the memory instantly came up. I watched as the abuse played out, or at least the parts that I could see and feel. This memory is different than the majority of my others. In this memory, I am not watching the abuse happen to the little girl, the abuse is happening to me. There has only been one other memory to come up in this manner, and it’s the last “new” memory that surfaced back in September – the memory in the bathtub.

    As I switched sides in my restorative twist, I cried.

    I am so, so sorry I couldn’t keep you safe. I’ll never be able to keep you safe from him. 

    Eventually, the emotions went away, and I was left feeling numb. As the class moved into the next pose, I got into a restorative child’s pose. The weight of the sandbag covering my back was comforting, and I thought about the moments in Thai Massage where my instructor lays across my back. I am safe.

    I was exhausted for the remainder of class, and maybe even fell asleep during savasana. My body was tired from the memory, and my mind was tired from the emotions. When class ended, I felt like I had somehow made a little bit of progress with everything that had come up.

    Today, I saw my therapist. We talked at length about the memory. We talked about the things that I can and cannot see in the memory, and the fear that is present when I cannot see. We talked about all of the unknown things from the memory that make me feel worried and scared. And we talked about all of the ways that I have made progress with working on trauma memories.

    My therapist brought up that I am now seeing myself in the memory, instead of just watching the memories happen as if they are happening to another little girl. This progress is indicative of healing and growth. We also talked about how I don’t cry over my memories the way that I did a year or so ago. My therapist says this might mean that the grief that comes with the memories is not as strong – I have found healing. My brain also does not get as stuck on the memories. I am able to sit with the memories for a small bit of time to process what needs to be processed, and then move on – a skill that I have learned in my work in Thai Massage sessions.

    I know that this memory is still on the surface. It came up tonight in my vinyasa yoga class, both in a wide legged forward fold and in bridge. I also had lots of emotions surrounding self-injury and suicidal ideation in tonight’s yoga class. I have felt trapped by these thoughts of not wanting to continue working as hard as I work. I don’t know what I am passionate about right now, and aside from my daughter, I am not sure what my reason is. I do not want to continue to wake up each morning and fight so hard to be ok, only to have to do it again the next day. I am tired. The battle seems to never end, even though I have made immense progress. Right now, it feels like the thoughts that usually weigh me down in the month of March have come around in April in full-force attack mode. I am hopeful that things will settle back down once this newest memory has been processed completely.

    In the mean time, I am continuing to practice yoga and self-care. I am trying to reach out for help when I become overwhelmed. I am savoring my moments of joy with my daughter on the days when she is with me. And, I am literally taking life one day at a time. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

    Less Alone

    I saw my nutritionist today for the first time in three weeks. I had sent her my blog post about Disney World where I practiced self-care and conquered a week with my mother and small child. I was proud of my ability to take care of myself that week, but now that I am back, I am having a tough time with suicidal thoughts. I’m still eating mostly ok, and I am still trying to practice self-care. The thoughts just won’t seem to go away this time though… it’s Day 4.

    What I know about my ability to manage suicidal thoughts is that after 6 or more consecutive days, I tend to actually want to kill myself. It becomes more than just this fantasy of escape… it becomes a serious need.

    Today, I was hesitant to bring up my suicidal thoughts with my nutritionist. Partially because they probably aren’t totally nutrition-related; but also because I understand the obligations of a mandated reporter. It takes a very long time for me to build that trust with a healthcare professional. It’s about more than just trusting them not to call when I am having suicidal thoughts; it is also about trusting them to call when I really do need help and there isn’t another option. So far, in my adult life, no one has ever called. I trust that this means I have never needed to go to the hospital.

    My session with my nutritionist today was exactly what I needed. She always approaches our conversations with so much empathy and compassion. I cried in my session today – something I don’t typically do. I was feeling so overwhelmed by everything: new trauma memories, the way my brain sees my body, the love for hunger, the hatred for myself, etc. I sat on the couch, my knees curled tightly to my chest, and cried slow, painful tears.

    What if the thoughts never go away? What if my brain always sees my body as disgusting, fat, and gross? What if the trauma memories never go away? What if the nightmares never stop? I don’t want to do it anymore. I am so tired. I just can’t. I can’t save the little girl anymore. 

    The chitta vritti was so loud that I closed myself off from the world and cried. My nutritionist tried to reassure me that it would get better, but the words in my head were so overpowering that she was barely audible. I just want to give up. I don’t want to be here anymore. 

    By the end of the session, my tears had stopped. Just being able to share my thoughts helped me feel a little lighter. I left feeling supported and cared for. While that didn’t make the suicidal thoughts go away, it did make me feel a little less alone with them.

    Tonight, I still don’t really have a strong desire to be here. Everything just feels hard right now. Each night, I go to bed hoping that I’ll wake up and feel differently in the morning. Maybe tomorrow will be different.

    The Darkness

    I seem to always have a difficult time returning from traveling. It isn’t so much that I wish I were still on vacation… I know that’s a relatively normal experience. Instead, it’s more of an “I wish I wasn’t here at all” kind of feeling. This same feeling arose after I got back from a week in Tulum last year, and again after a week on the west coast, and now, after a week at Disney, it’s back.

    I don’t matter.

    The world is better without me.

    I am a lot – too much.

    All living things die. It’s a thing that happens. What I’ve noticed is that when a person dies, even if they are loved and cared for very much, the world moves on. The people who are living continue living. It’s as if the person never existed to begin with. I’ve watched as friends, family, and significant others become forgotten, a distant memory that cannot be preserved.

    As my mind has sifted through this, I am left with the feeling of it doesn’t matter if I die – no one would care (aside from my daughter).

    And really, that’s true. If I died today, in a few weeks, most of the world will have forgotten about me. My impact is minimal at best. I don’t know what my purpose is, or why I continue to struggle with things. I feel trapped by a brain that refuses to just be ok. I feel like my mind will always want me to die. It’s a losing battle, and I am tired. The trauma memories are never going away. The constant struggle is never ending. I just don’t see the point.

    This week, it feels like the darkness is winning. Yes, I have talked to my therapist. No, I am not killing myself. My brain just feels like it is stuck in the dark. I can’t figure out how to make it stop.

    Image from: https://weheartit.com/entry/118558473

    Making The World A Better Place: April 7th Thai Massage

    It has been 23 days since my last Thai Massage. My last few Thai sessions have been centered primarily around trauma work… some of the hardest trauma work I have faced to date. In the last 23 days, my PTSD symptoms have been less intense. I have traveled to NYC and Disney World. I have submitted a resignation from my job and signed an offer letter for a new job. And, I have started a new protocol of neurofeedback – one that works both the right and the left side of my brain.

    I wanted today’s Thai session to be about self-care. After all of the travel, and toting around my 45 pound daughter, my body needed a self-care session. And, after several weeks of intensive trauma work in Thai and in therapy last month, my soul needed a self-care session.

    Because of all of my traveling, I haven’t been attending yoga classes, and I haven’t really seen my Thai instructor. After spending a week with my mom, with all of her negativity and anger, it was really a breath of fresh air to spend two hours with one of the most positive people in my life. A portion of my session was spent listening to my instructor talk about her recent travel adventures. When she talks to me in our sessions, it helps me stay present. I also feel like I gain a lot from just listening to her speak. Today, I listened intently. I listened to every word spoken, to every sound in the present moment, so that my mind would not get lost in the past. Through my listening, my soul was nourished by the positive energy, the safety, and the grounding that my instructor brings into our sessions.

    I watched as she pressed along my legs. I could not feel her today. The world felt muted again, just as it had a few sessions ago. Like a chameleon who changes colors, this numbness is my body’s way of protecting itself. At one point though, as my instructor and I were discussing assists in yoga, the past took over. I was in a memory before I could prevent it. The new memory.

    Prior to this session, I communicated with my instructor that I wanted the session to focus on self-care; I didn’t want to do trauma work unless absolutely necessary. I am not sure how long I was in the memory for, but I don’t think much time passed before my instructor pulled me back into the present moment. I am ok. 

    I didn’t want to work the new memory in Thai yet; I need to work it in therapy first. I took a cleansing breath and let the memory go. I talked to my instructor about a variety of things, but I didn’t mention the memory. The intention for today was self-care, and I made it a point to stick to that.

    As the massage progressed, I felt my body resume it’s normal, cared-for state. The anxiety that had been lying under the surface for the past seven days dissipated. The negative energy that came from being in the presence of a negative person for the past week was replaced by positive, loving energy. I felt mentally and physically restored.

    Thai makes the whole world better … or at least my whole world.

     

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