Therapy Thursday

It’s probably surprising to some people, but occasionally the time I spend with Richard is the most relaxed I am all week. This week has been a roller-coaster, with ups that more than compensated for the downs, but definitely some stuff I needed to address. I realized that, for the first time in a while, my anxiety was holding steady at a level that was affecting my whole body, from my breathing to my muscles to my head. I asked Rich to do some “targeted EMDR” (I think I made that up) around an area of particular strain for me, and when I first settled into the love seat and took a few steadying breaths, I realized I was actually getting dizzy from the inrush of oxygen I’d been deprived of all week, but particularly since last night. We talked about that some, I had an interesting realization, and then we went on to begin tackling my anxiety about cars, driving, and accidents.

I know I was a passenger in at least a few accidents as a child, though I have no memories of them. The one accident I do remember from a few years ago wasn’t hugely traumatizing in any way (aside from the asshole who hit us making an infuriating remark that made me want to snatch his fender out of our grille and go all Big Papi on his head). Most of my triggers are around accidents my loved ones have been in when I wasn’t there – my ex getting t-boned in an intersection by another truck going about 40MPH after dropping me off at the airport, my mom getting hit by a drunk driver in October of last year and needing multiple surgeries (she’s still on crutches and in PT), my sister getting in an accident that deployed her airbag and totaled her car two weeks ago today. Last night on her way home from work, the woman I’ve been seeing was in an accident. She texted to let me know, so I knew she was okay, but it started me down a not-so-pleasant memory lane – I looked at pics from my ex’s crash, started thinking about the mounting dread as Joshua and I approached the scene of mom’s accident, recalled the hours in hospitals and on the phone with insurance agents and lawyers and billing reps.

One session won’t “cure” my anxiety around this, but it did offer me a moment’s respite from the constant buzz of fear that’s been present. Rich also provided me with alternate perceptions of a few things I thought were fact, which was an enormous relief. Maybe someday I won’t be stomping my invisible brake or clutching the dash when I’m a passenger, and maybe as a driver I won’t white-knuckle through construction zones or always be fearful during dusk and dawn when my vision is worst. In the meantime, I will just be grateful that all the people I know are alive and well after their accidents, remind myself that I have never been in an accident while behind the wheel, and breathe into my new knowledge. Cuz that’s powerful stuff.

Well, *rap.

Sometimes you want to write a blog post, but your keyboard is slightly malfuntional beause the boy stole the one with all the working keys —- oh, oh, wait, he just reminded me (beause he’s reading oer my shoulder) that the keyboard is his, mine just happened to stop working when he stole my other peripherals to use on his omputer. So, it’s fun to try and find alternate ways to say things that inorporate words that utilie the three letters to the right of the left-hand shift key, but it isn’t always possible. So maybe I’ll wait until Merury omes bak around and I’e got a fully-funtional keyboard again.

In other news, some days are full of bitterness and disappointment and frustration and some nights are full of journaling and salt water and good talks. Reminding myself daily, hourly, minute-ly, that I am right where I need to be, in all areas of this wild and fortunate life I lead.

Therapy Thursday

I don’t think I’ve ever walked into Richard’s sunroom and grabbed the box of Kleenex before I even sat down. The first words out of my mouth were, “I’m feeling really vulnerable and fragile and I’ve had a really shitty week and I’m glad to be here.” I told him why today is particularly hard, then a bit of why my week has been so challenging, and then… He made it all better. Not in the “kiss the boo-boo and now it’s all better” sort of way, but the “take a look at this and tell me what you see” way that made me realize… I’m better. Better than I was a year ago, WAY better than I was six years ago. I see things about myself more clearly now, and am making better choices – not every time, and not always right away, but more quickly and more frequently.

I see myself a year, or six years, or fifteen years ago, in others, and it frustrates me not to be able to save them the years of struggling, the lost joys, the internal battles. My powerlessness consumes me and makes me angry and I lash out at others and at myself. But this isn’t a destination. My journey is ongoing, and there will be missteps. I need to remember to be kind to myself as I work to heal the bits of me that are still broken or in some stage of repair. I need to recognize the things in my life that retraumatize me and allow myself to protect or pull away. I’m not all better yet – but I’m some better. And I owe it to myself to continue to create an environment that nurtures and supports my growth, and to others to grow even if it means taking a time out. I want to offer my best self to the world, and I can only achieve that through kindness and love and forgiveness and gentleness.

This song came on as I was driving home from time spent with some amazing ladyfriends. While it doesn’t directly apply to my life, it has always struck a chord in me, and it reminded me that it’s okay that I don’t always have the answers, and I sometimes have half-formed thoughts, and I say things that aren’t my most genuine self when I feel lost or threatened or confused. I’m still learning me, and I don’t have to understand everything or explain anything or be “on” all the time. I get to have the same lenience I give others, and to forgive myself for… everything.

Including rambling, circular, not-rereading-or-editing blog posts. So there.

Therapy Thursday…

…Which happened on Friday, and I’m writing about on Saturday. It’s summer; this is how we roll.

So, the primary reasons I chose Richard are that he was recommended as a queer-friendly therapist and he’s EMDR certified. EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization Processing, is a method of psychotherapy used frequently in treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma in general. I know my understanding of PTSD was informed primarily by the dramatic cases you see in movies or hear about in the news, but it can also be the result of “small” incidents repeated over a long period of time. Some people best served by EMDR are survivors of childhood abuse, sexual violence, and abusive relationships in any capacity. As a triple winner, I’m a no-brainer candidate.

Last night after the two-week catch up, Rich and I got back to work on my EMDR prep. Every practitioner does things a little differently, so the details aren’t really relevant – what really struck me was what a fucking hypocrite I am. Let me ‘splain. No, is too much; let me sum up. (ETA: what follows is *not* a “sum up,” but I couldn’t resist the Princess Bride reference. You understand.)

Fairly recently, I met someone who I’ve spent quite a bit of time with over the last month or so. One topic that came up shortly after we met, and which has been more of a conversation piece of late, is passion. Life’s passions – the things we would do all day, every day, if reality wouldn’t interfere. Her passion is photography – particularly landscapes, nature and its mysteries and intricacies. And she’s good. Really good. And beyond the technical aspect of capturing a moment, of manipulating the image, of creating – her passion for the whole art is palpable, electric. Her eyes darken as with lust when she sees a particularly stunning image, she loses herself in time when she’s setting up a shot. To see it is to feel it in the air, to taste it, to be swept up in what so clearly moves her, possesses someone who otherwise tends to seem enigmatic and stoic. I encourage her to find the path that will allow her to pursue her passion, all the while stifling my own. Telling myself I can’t, it’s silly, that life was lost to me when I was 17 years old.

What bullshit.

I know most of you who know me probably believe that my passion is writing. Or reading. Or both. And that’s absolutely true in one sense, but the way I define passion involves a pain, a longing, a struggle. Nothing in the world will ever stop me from writing – it is as much a part of me as breathing. But the passion I left behind, the passion I think about daily and feel loss around on a regular basis, is for music. Singing and dance in particular, though I miss playing instruments, too. Tonight I met a young man, a friend’s son, who does musical theater. In a brief conversation, memories of shows I’ve seen and performed in flooded back, and before I even knew what I was saying, I told him how much I miss it. This kid, 21, maybe 22, said to me, “So, do it. What are you waiting for? Come back.” So often I think, maybe I should just go out for a show. Maybe I should take that belly dance intensive. Maybe I could do burlesque. But it never gets beyond the research stage. My excuses are many, but the reality is that it all comes down to one: fear. And goddammit, I am TIRED of fear controlling my life. When I’m sitting on Richard’s couch and start sobbing just to think that I haven’t been on a stage in 15 years, that should tell me something. Maybe I’m ready to listen.

Maybe.

Mellow Collie.

Sometimes in the rush of daily living, I don’t give myself time to sit with the feelings I’d rather not have. When you’re mostly experiencing fun and excitement and sweetness, why would you embrace melancholy? I think for me, it’s about that elusive vixen, Balance. I know that I need to let myself feel ALL THE THINGS or else I will lose the ability to appreciate the good because the not-good will envelop me all at once and deny me any more happiness until I deal with my shit.

One of the things I sometimes forget about mindfulness is that it isn’t always about being happy – it’s just about being present. Present with whatever I’m feeling, so I can learn from it and grow with it and accept it rather than try to fight it. So I’m going to think about some of the “meh” feelings, and what I can gain from embracing them. I’m going to listen to sad music and let it wash over me and draw out the nuances of emotion that are tucked away in the corners. I’m going to be grateful for the wonderful things in my life and not push them away or withdraw from them, because it’s okay for me to experience all of me at once. I don’t need to hide the happy or the sad; I’m allowed to feel both.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of the crazy fuzzy button flower at the farmer’s market. They do eventually bloom, but I thought it was pretty rad just like this.

Hot.

It’s one of those glorious Maine summer days during which you sweat when you’re sitting completely still. moving my thumbs to type this on my phone, as my computer has been haphazardly dismantled by the boy for parts to make his functional, is about all I’ve the energy for at the moment, and that’s a-okay.

It’s amazing to me the little things that show me how far Joshua has come in such a relatively short time. When he called yesterday when mom picked him up from camp, we had a real conversation, one that involved questions and answers and full sentences, playfulness and laughter and excitement. He’s always been a happy kid, but he’s growing into this engaging and more complex young man, one who maybe doesn’t express a typical range of emotions, but who is no longer limited to happy/angry. He’s wearing his tie-dyed camp t-shirt today, and seeing it compared to the one from last year is like he’s aged ten years in one as far as his gross and fine motor skills go. When I said I’d gone to camp while he was gone, he asked about it and didn’t just nod and walk back to his computer. These may seem insignificant to someone with neurotypical kids, but for an Aspie at his level, they’re huge successes.

The week off was absolutely needed, and I enjoyed every minute of my free time. I also realized, though, that I really enjoy Joshua’s company and missed him when I was doing things I know would have been fun for and with him, too. We’re a funny little family unit, my brother-son and me, but we’re a pretty rad one, I think. I’m glad the dude is home.

Guess what time it is…

I love Sister Hazel. I’ve decided on this as my summer anthem, because it’s just fun and puts me in mind of good times without complications.

This one’s been added to my Carly Rae Jepson/Flo Rida ft Sia/La Roux rotation. Shut it.

Another fun summer tune; he put on a great show at Old Port Fest, and this was one of the songs he played.

I was reminded of this one last night; I’d forgotten what an incredible song it is.

And what’s 4th of July without a lil Martina? Happy Independence Day, all; hope it is a beautiful one for each of you.

Weekend Love.

There are few words to express how fulfilling and satisfying this weekend’s camping trip was, and on how many levels. I had small circle of friends time, one-on-one time, and quiet time alone. I did some writing, some reading, and some just sitting. There was fantastic scenery, good music, and great company. And while I was grateful for the comforts of home, I felt almost resentful at having to come back to civilization before I’d had my fill of the wilderness and the serenity that comes with being mostly inaccessible to the world outside.