Fight, Flight, Total Freak Out

All the bad energy I have been talking about for weeks came to a head this afternoon as I was driving home from internship and it was terrifying.

There is a point on my drive home from internship where the road I am on merges with oncoming traffic. I am usually timid as I make this merge because typically there is a lot of oncoming traffic and the ptsd I have related to a previous car accident keeps me cautious when I drive. So I got to my merge today and there was a lot of oncoming traffic, it was a Friday a 4:45pm so this was not surprising.

I was slowly inching down the merge lane waiting for my opportunity to get in when the car behind me started blaring on their horn. This alone was really startling for me, I wasn’t sure what they were honking for. I looked in my rear view to see the lady behind me screaming (I am not exaggerating here, she was screaming) and waving her hands around in a motion that I interpreted as her wanting me to go. Go where? There was a solid line of at least 4 or 5 cars, there was no where to go until this clearedShe continued with his behavior and laying on her horn until finally there was break in traffic and I was able to finish merging. While I was waiting for traffic to clear I waved back at her trying to signal that Yes I hear you, I will go when I can. It was no use, she was unrelenting.

I was rattled. Her behavior was over the top. My nervous system kicked into over drive.

Once I was able to merge she let off her horn and I thought it was all over. I was wrong. She proceeded to tailgate me down the road, practically sitting on my bumper. All I could think was please don’t cause an accident. Please don’t hit my husband’s car.

My turn for home is not far from that merge area so soon enough I was in my turn lane, again thinking I would be done with this lady and the whole situation. Wrong again. She was turning left too. Then I thought Oh crap. She is one of my neighbors.

When I turned left there was a car coming but I had time to turn, the lady behind me turned left in front of the car cutting it off. I drove down a few blocks and she continued to tailgate me, staying dangerously close to the bumper of my car. I came to a four way stop sign, I needed to go straight but something told me not to go straight home. I turned right. Almost without stopping she turned right as well. I then turned left, she stayed with me. At this point I called my husband. I was not far from home and I did not know what to do. Should I go home? Should I call the police? Was she following me or was she a neighbor?

While explaining to my husband what was happening I decided to pull over to the side of the road to see if she would pass me. She didn’t. She pulled up behind my car. I immediately started driving again. That was all the confirmation I needed. I was around the corner from our home, I asked my husband to come outside, that I thought we would need to call the police but that I wanted to get her plate. I made my left turn at the last stop sign before home and instead of following me she hit the gas and went straight.

I was only partially relieved.

I got home, parked, and immediately went inside. I was shaking so hard my husband had to hold me. I laid on his chest and mimicked his deep breathing until I was breathing normally again. I did not stop shaking for 20 minutes.

After processing it with my husband what we think happened is she saw me on my phone and after the maneuver I did to confirm she was following me she assumed I was on the phone with the police. She made sure to drive off fast and in a direction where it would be very difficult for me to get her license plate information.

As my husband was walking back through the whole situation with from beginning to end I found myself trying to make sense of everything. Why did she do that? I just do not understand. My husband tried to explain that she probably had a bad day and was taking it out on me through her road rage. Ok, but I still do not understand what about me and the way I was driving set her off. There was literally no where for me to go. If I had gone forward like she wanted me to I would have caused a massive accident.What did she want? What was going on inside her head?

I have never been involved in road rage before. I am a very cautious driver, I always let people in, I do not speed.. I just do not see myself as an obvious target for someone’s aggression in this way, especially in this specific situation. I mean if it was what my husband said and she was projecting her anger on me that is scary. This woman allowed herself to get so wrapped up in it that she was following someone home. What did she think she was going to do once I stopped? Was she going to confront me? Was she planning to get out of her car? I mean to what end was she planning to take this situation? And again why?

This all just goes back to the really bad energy stewing our there right now. It does not matter how zen I try to be or how committed to keeping balance and perspective I am.. I cannot control the rest of the world.

Let this scary situation be a voice in the back of all of our heads the next time we feel ourselves feeding into negativity.. To what end? Why? What am I hoping to accomplish with this? 

We are all in this (surviving life) together folks. Lets not make it harder on ourselves or each other. Be kind. Show love. Forgive. Take a breath. Be patient.

It all may sound cliche and recycled but this woman forgot all of it today. We are capable of getting caught up in our own negativity or the negative energy swirling around out in the world. We all have the potential to forget. So be mindful, be kind, and be grateful whenever you can.

Although this lady sent me into a full on ptsd episode I still trying to find compassion. I know it is hard, I am sorry you are struggling with whatever it is you are struggling with, I am sending you light.

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Leaving for Soul Camp

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Well the week blew by, as I half expected it would. I feel the urgency to write a bit before I leave in a few hours for soul camp. I would like to release some of what is banging around inside of me now so I can hopefully arrive at soul camp with a blank slate completely open to what will be.

I have been roaming the house for a few weeks picking up little pieces of this and that which I will bring with me. A rock from our mountain vacation last year that hubs inscripted a love note on for me, photos from childhood, a small acorn filled branch from Nana, a piece of my grandmother’s jewelry.. Things that are holding energy that feels important on this journey.

I finished packing the majority of my bags last night, this morning I have been running over my check list, and gathering what is left.

I have mixed emotions this morning about leaving. I am excited for sure so there is that underlying current of energy running through me, it feels like a child before going to Disney. I also feel an overwhelming sense of calm, like that of an old woman who has lived and seen so much that the world can no longer rattle her. With that I also feel a small vibration of anxiety in my chest above my heart but below my throat. It is just sitting there twisting around sending off sparks like a very very small live wire that has been severed and is now dancing in the street. This is not where my anxiety normally sits so I am a little surprised to feel it there but that is where it is showing up today and I am sure I will find out why at some point over the course of this weekend.

For the few remaining hours at home before I leave I plan to embrace the silence of our home, paint my nails, maybe write some more, and love on Lucy. Then it will be time to go. When I wrote that I felt a snap or spark from the anxiety sitting in my chest. She is clearly afraid, and that is okay, there is room for fear in the work I will be doing this weekend. The whole purpose of this retreat is to connect deeper with every piece of myself so all parts are welcome, there is enough space for everyone on this soul journey.

Preparing for Soul Camp

In a few short weeks I will be leaving for a weekend retreat at the beach and as the time grows nearer I am feeling all kinds of emotions bubble to the surface.

Soul Camp is a weekend therapeutic retreat led by my therapist and a co-facilitator where I will be involved in group therapy surrounding topics related to trauma, self-love, healing, family, women issues, and whatever else happens to pop up for us while we are there.

Yesterday I attended a meeting related to Soul Camp where I met all the other women who will be attending. We had a chance to talk and work out some of the jitters because we are essentially all being thrusted into each other’s work and that is kind of a big deal. I knew most of the women present as we have been attending workshops together over the course of the last year, that was reassuring. I also met someone new and this someone new will be my roommate while at Soul Camp. I am really excited about that.

The roommate situation made me a bit nervous because we will all be bringing different emotional baggage to soul camp as well as different energies around what our stuff is. I was concerned about being impacted by someone else’s energy because when in close quarters for extended periods of time it can get harder to keep up an emotional boundary. I don’t want to absorb someone else’s stuff and get distracted from what I am bringing that I need to work on.

When I first encountered this person yesterday at the meeting I did not feel overwhelmed by her energy, which was a good sign. She felt open and vulnerable which is what I try to bring as well, I think it will be a good match.

I will spend the next few weeks collecting items around my home that I want to bring with me, maybe a photo from childhood, or some other little thing that feels connected to the work I am doing. This space that is being created for us at Soul Camp feels like it might amplify the work we are already doing so I am trying to emotionally and mentally prepare myself for that.

I am looking forward to it though. I am trying to lean back a bit and not control it, I am trying not to think about it to much or create expectations for what it might be.I am going to pack a bag, leave on a Friday, and let it be whatever it is meant to be.

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I Can’t Breathe

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I was dropped kicked in the face by my trauma today. It is late and I have my first day of internship tomorrow so I am not going to process all this here and now, I felt the need to address it though. Give it a voice with the hope and intention that it will not haunt me as I try to sleep tonight. I wrote about it in my dark writing place so I have processed it to some degree but I also felt the need to put something here as well. This blog is about my experiences as a student and this is absolutely part of that, I do not want to edit it out just to make the over all story look nicer.

This piece of my story is not a piece I am willing to talk about openly, not at this point at least. It is not like my car accident, it’s roots are deeper, it is messier, it is the trauma that all my other trauma ever experienced was originally born from.

I was not prepared to face it today. It is a dragon and I was not wearing any armor. I had it together long enough to be in my car alone where I can let myself go. It was as if an old wound burst open, my tears flowed like blood, I bled myself dry.

I am okay now. I am much better at taking care of myself than I have been in the past. I feel safe, grounded, loved, and comfortable. I feel like after reading my book for a little bit I will be able to go to bed without issue. The best part of that is I did that for myself. Yes, I processed what happened with Todd but I did not ask him to come to my rescue, I did that for myself. I know how to do that now. I made myself feel safe, I showed myself love, I helped myself feel grounded, I am the reason I feel comfortable and ready for sleep. There is only one relationship you will have for your entire life and that is the relationship you have with yourself. It is the most important relationship of your life. Nothing I have ever done in my entire life has been more important than learning to love myself and invest in the relationship I have with myself.

For a brief moment tonight it felt like my entire world cracked open and 20+ years of trauma came washing over me in one terrifying instant. I did not spiral. I did not retreat. I did not numb. I sat in that awful place and felt every single thing I was feeling and took care of myself. I made it better. I did it. This is the turning point in my life where I realize every single thing is possible. If I can do this thing I have never ever been able to do I know I am capable of anything.

It was just a Dream

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That phrase, it was just a dream, can be the most comforting and invalidating statement all at once. Anyone with PTSD might know what I am talking about. I have night terrors, frequently. I have had frightening dreams for years, since high school. Some are recurring, some are recurring themes with different characters/environments, some are terrifying and do not seem related to anything specific (although I would be willing to bet they are).

These bad dreams have been my constant companion for all these years, the frequency in which they occur varies though. There are times when I may go weeks without one, recently though they have been there every night. For weeks I have been almost afraid to go to sleep because I know what is waiting for me, or at least I think I do and then it is usually much worse than I could have anticipated.

Last week Todd woke me up because I was making noises and breathing heavily/erratically. When I woke up I grabbed on to him and started crying hysterically. When I finally caught my breath and calmed down I was laying in a puddle that once was my husband’s chest and my eyes were swollen. It was just a dream are the words he cues into my ears when this kind of things happens. He holds me, he rubs my back, or pets my head, his even breathing calms mine and the echo of his heart beat in my ear brings mine back down. It was just a dream, it’s not real, I am safe. I feel comforted.

I have been in other situations where those words, it was just a dream, were flung at me in annoyance, they were dismissive. It was just a dream, get over it!

As I do my work my hope is that these dreams will ebb. Right now I think my work is why they are so frequent. A lot is coming up and my subconscious is reacting to/processing it. These dreams are certainly giving me plenty to work on. In the mean time I am doing what I can for myself in order to feel safe and comfortable at bed time.

There is a song by one of Todd and I’s favorite bands, City and Colour, that I think of when it comes to my haunting dreams. Apparently Dallas Green’s wife (he is the lead singer and song writer) also suffers from night terrors. I hear this song and think is this is what it is like for Todd? I wanted to share the lyrics in case it speaks to anyone else with these same issues.

Fragile Bird

When she sleeps
There is a fever dream, yeah
It brings a night terror
To haunt this fragile bird

She speaks in tounges
Her words they come undone, yeah
And with the wayward mind
She struggles through the night

All that I can do
Is hope she makes it through, through the night, through the night

These cold nightmares
They make her worse for ware
Lost in the dark
She’s got a heavy heart

And when she wakes
In her fragile state
When she calls my name
Hopin that I keep her safe

All that I can do
Is hope she makes it through
All that I can do
Is hope she makes it through

Through the night (x4)

All that I can do
Is hope she makes it through
All that I can do
Is hope she makes it through
Through the night

OZ

When I was 14 I was in a car accident on the first day of high school that resulted in me being absent from school for a month while my body healed. It was traumatic and at the time I could not process it so I found ways to bypass the feelings. One way was by watching The Wizard of Oz every single day sometimes two and three times a day. It is what I remember most of that month. I was not laying on the couch with a broken face, I was in Oz.

Although this may not have been the best way to deal with the physical and emotional trauma associated with the accident it is what worked for me at the time and you have to admit that if a person wants to escape their life Oz is great choice.

This movie has always been special to me because it helped me survive a very difficult part of my life and I admit I still return to it sometimes when I feel overwhelmed.

We spent Saturday evening with my family playing cards once we returned from West Palm. When we arrived my Mom had four blank canvas for me that she purchased and decided not to use. I was over the moon. I have not painted all summer because I have been busy. All of my assignments are turned in, my break between semesters has started, and I have time to paint. Her timing with this gift was perfect.

Sunday I spent the entire day on a research paper so Todd held down the house. He did chores, made dinner, did the grocery shopping (an errand we always do together because we both hate it). I was grateful. I told him I was going to paint him something beautiful with my time off to thank him. Yesterday I laid out my drop cloth, got my floor pillow, got all my supplies set up, and set up my canvas. I had an idea for what I wanted to paint for him but I couldn’t visualize it, kind of like when I have inspiration to write but I don’t quite have all the words yet.. I paint something in my head for a while before I touch the canvas just like how sometimes I write a post in my head long before I get it down on “paper”.

I sat for a while trying to visualize the piece and finally decided to start painting and let the piece make itself. First I gravitated towards a whitish blue for the background, then I made a reddish orange and started painting little blobs on the canvas. I paused to see what I was making and then it hit me, poppies. I intended to paint something for Todd yesterday but I guess I needed to paint something for me first. It was the poppy field, I was painting the way to Oz.

There is less bypassing going on in my life since I have been in therapy but that does not mean that Oz is any less important to me. It is a reminder of something, I understand why my subconscious brought it to me.