Okay so this is going to be one of those really honest blogs where I will in all likelihood: really offend some people. If the context escapes you: I don’t care that I offended you, sorry not sorry. I’m just saying that to spare you the time you’d spend responding- because I care. Really.
Trying to unpack the emotional shit of late…yeah, look, it’s gonna go sit over there in the corner a while. That said, one thing that I can say without reservation is: I have had some brilliant coping tools I might not otherwise have, had I never started doing the work of trauma recovery. I won’t go into the Gilding the Goddamn Turd style of shit others do- thank you, but no, I think I would have vastly preferred to have just not been hurt in the first place. The thing is, it wasn’t the abuse that made me strong. It wasn’t PTSD imbuing me with preternatural powers and there is no fucking making positive of what happened.
It’s all about making positive of me. You think you’re going to get any trauma survivor to thank the situation- holy crap you come and get these hands. They’re waiting for you.
I am kind of half kidding. But yeah:
The other night, I was laying in bed and I just felt content. Contentment is a freaky feeling which used to completely weird me out if it happened at all. I am well past the days of wooden hugs or twitching away- and well past fearing contentment. Over the past few years, it’ll creep up on me and as you might imagine: that shit feels good. I was laying with my partner, Kurt and we were watching some bad old tv. The 5 year old was playing with his trucks. The teenagers were off…teenaging. I don’t know. I just felt safe, I felt comfortable and like I was in a good place.
I mean, if you didn’t know, and I recognize fully all the damn business coaches and whatever say never to say this: my life is a raging dumpster fire outside of my home. It truly is. Outside of my home.
I keep making smart ass remarks about people who assumed I pulled back for whatever reasons but you know what? I was sick of screaming. I was sick of wanting to run. I was sick of suspicion and sick of feeling like the one person I should be able to trust was an awful piece of shit. Meantime, he was sick of a lot of things too but took a more escapist route with it and he was sick of the escapist route too: because it meant there was something to be escaped. That’s all I’ll say about that. Most people know what was going on, there.
The thing is, we were either going to get our shit together or we were gonna explode and there was no two ways about any of that. The shit getting together part is ongoing, but, in terms of the capital Us– I don’t think I’ve ever had this. Ever. And it’s brilliant.
Sweep your fucking floor
We have a saying among my friends and it’s one a mentor of mine also says fairly often: clean your floor. There’s a reason starting with a clean floor’s a part of a hell of a lot of rituals. Ya’ll, I live with two teenagers, a 5 year old, a dog, 5 cats and a pig. The physical act of cleaning my floor centers the shit out of me. Particularly during the summer months as said dog is part husky. Anyway. Beyond that, though there’s a more far reaching meaning to making sure the floor is clean: foundations. Your foundation is fucking everything.
In my case, said foundation was my home life and my floor decidedly needed cleaning. Believe I slammed those gates shut on any and everything which could possibly be in any way toxic or not conducive. If it didn’t matter- and a whole lot of it didn’t: the fuck on out in went.
It’s work and it’s a process. You know, I get it, loads and loads of people would love to believe otherwise: but building a home and family is work. It’s a lot of hard work and it never stops. For those who are looking to do that: the relationship between those building said family is everything. It comes before friends, it comes before hobbies, it comes before jobs, it comes before literally everything else- including kids. You don’t want it to be like that, but it is. It does not exclude those things– but it comes before them. (In fact, inclusion of those things is incredibly vital and important.)
You really think you wanna build a home with somebody you’re still trying to raise? No. This is the person you have to trust above and beyond anyone else. (Or people, whatever floats your goat. I don’t define these things for others.)
I did not trust him. Some of this was definitely his fault- but most of it was Trauma Brain Weasel being a Grade A bastard. I had that moment of pure, uninhibited contentment the other night and you know what my trauma brain did?
Straight up went, “Oh hey, guess what? I love that you’re at this point. I do. This means you can handle facing where those brain weasels REALLY come from.” and I had one hellacious bitch of a nightmare that night. The next day, I explored it with Kurt and I was like: “Holy shit, that couldn’t have been much more obvious. Even my subconscious lacks subtlety.” You wanna know the thing, here, though? 2 years ago, three- I couldn’t talk about this shit. Couldn’t be open about it, because being open about it was bad. It was vulnerable and it was bad for a bunch of different reasons. I have been- with his consent- unabashedly honest about these things. I do not blame him for them, I do not use them to excuse my shit-ass behavior. Honesty is remarkably important and between a good therapist and people you trust: just hearing the shit come out of your mouth is powerful as hell. The thing is, the more you dig, the more comes up. Dreams about infidelity gradually give way to dreams about abandonment which then…give way to dreams about why I feared those things happening. Memories. Whole bunch of delightful shit like that.
Like I said before, this is trauma recovery- you get to the top of the stairs and suddenly:
But you handle it better. Believe me, you do. Because your brain essentially knows you’re ready to, and so, that’s why you get served this stuff. I had this insane insecurity nightmare and you know what? I talked about it openly, I dissected it and came away from it feeling lighter. That lighter feeling and that contentment- well, it’s sticking around. I kinda dig that.
The thing is though, Trauma Brain is a fucking liar. Not only is it a liar, it exaggerates every fucking thing. It’s not a goofy meme I’m citing here- it’s called catastrophizing and when you blend that shit with hyper-vigilance? Things can really seem mighty fucked up.
They’re usually a hell of a lot less fucked up, but once your head starts with that- it’s on. And it just stays on, the intrusive thoughts, the panic attacks, the depression, all of it: bam bam bam. And it sucks.
The thing with catastrophizing is this, though, it’s often not simply intrusive thoughts. Oh no. Particularly in my case, sometimes, it’s more ambitious than that. I still fight some seriously self destructive tendencies, though that’s getting a lot better, all the time- which…like relationships, guess what else needs tending to all the time? Yep. Your trauma recovery. You know, I thought binging Netflix’d cut me a break on that shit but I’m watching American Horror Story: Roanoke and in the opening episode: hospital scene. I ugly cried out of nowhere. I mean, situation wasn’t the same at all- but she’s talking about seeing him in the bed, the scene is the dude is in the bed and I blubbered until I turned the shit off. That’s just one weird shit example.
As far as my head deciding to derail things- the song goes like this:
The fuck’s he not texting back for?
He’s late, he’s not texting back. The fuck?
Rational, healthy brain: Uh, you know, all the health problems. His mom is demanding. It’s just him doing things for his mom and dad and you know this.
NO IT IS NOT THERE IS SOME LEMAY HO. THERE’S A LEMAY HO AND YOU BET SHE HAS LOW ASS STANDARDS AND MAYBE SHE DON’T PUSH HIM LIKE YOU DO AND MAYBE SHE HAS BETTER BOOBS AND SHE IS PROBABLY LIKE NINETEEN OR SOME SHIT.
Rational, healthy brain: Stop that. That’s crap and you know it. You’re lapsing into hillbilly ratchet gal. You need to stop before you do something we all regret…
YOU ARE RIGHT IT IS PROBABLY A WAL MART HO. ONE OF THEM GROSS DOPERS WORKING THIRD SHIFT AND SNORTING ALL THE METH WITH THE SNAPCHAT FILTERS AND SHIT. I SEEN HER ON SOMEBODY’S PAGE AND THAT BITCH IS LIKE TWO DADDY ISSUES FROM THE TITTY BAR!
Rational, healthy brain: Oh jesus. Oh jesus. Sweet lord of hosts, you gotta- breathe. Brea-
It gets…uh, kind of disgusting. Thoughts that when I am in my right head I would never in a million years have. For one thing, when I am not in my feelings there- if somebody cheats on me, I know who is to blame and it is decidedly not the other woman. (Granted, that’s gross if you know, but…shit. I do not believe in a homewrecker coming from outside the home. The homewrecker’s the cheat.)
The worst part of all of the above was when it happened. Used to happen right after I really felt I’d opened up. Right after we’d had a wonderful time of something. I can go into that old “the other shoe’s about to drop” feeling- but, if you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship: you know. I wanted to fully illustrate EXACTLY how at least for me- I caught myself going from abuse victim: to abuser. Because that shit up there is abusive as hell. Oh and in case you don’t know- his escapism was not cheating. My self destruction nearly was, on my part. But no, that wasn’t it: this was just a threat and regular occurrence I had experienced to make me feel like worthless crap in an abusive relationship: he’s never cheated.
I know we have all seen the gross memes about jealousy. You know what? That shit is not healthy. What I illustrated above? That’s not healthy. It isn’t funny, it isn’t cute, and it is not a sign I care- it’s a sign I have dealt with some serious shit, still have a lot of issues, and then, when I would take it a step further and act on said issues: yeah, no. It’s not a funny Kermit meme: it’s abusive.
I didn’t need thousands of people liking and sharing the meme I slapped that crap on- I needed therapy. So, that’s what I did. I went beyond that, a bit and did some other things: because the truest thing I can tell you here is this- that is a fucking miserable way to be. It’s miserable for me, it’s miserable for my partners, it’s also …uh, often pretty miserable for whoever I may think is the problem. I gather most people do not act on these things: but I always did. The thing is, it wasn’t me and it isn’t me and it damn sure was never anybody I wanted to be. Let’s do a little hot take here- you may not want it to be true, but it is:
Mental illness does not excuse abusive behavior. Trauma does not excuse abusive behavior. It does not. No one is under any damn obligation to be abused for any fuckin’ reason, ever.
If the understanding is not the kick off for some considerable heavy lifting and work: it isn’t understanding, it’s an excuse. Don’t make any for yourself and do not accept any unless the work begins. And yeah, it’s back and forth and up and down, but it keeps moving.
Point is, trauma will take something and turn it into something incredibly scary, rage inducing, nasty, you name it. Whether it scares the shit out of you, makes you weep for days, gets you in some weird ass revenge mode which makes no sense, has you hollering at people who don’t deserve it- whatever: it’s fucking lying to you.
I want you to imagine for just a second that you have a friend. That friend has been with you a long time, through so much. Except, your friend is just utterly full of bullshit on a consistent basis. Is that person someone you’d keep around?
I personify my shit. That’s why I call it the Trauma Brain Weasel, though really I always sort of picture it like Swiper the Fox from Dora The Explorer. I’ve never told it Swiper No Swiping but now that I think on it- that might have broken the mood a bit. But I do that, because it allows me a weird ass way of dealing with this- but weird shit as it is: it’s better than actually listening to that bastard. I actually don’t get the intrusive thoughts nearly like I used to these days- but a stray one pops in every now and again. If you ever hear me going “What the fuck, brain?!” you’ll probably get to hear about some horrifying scenario my head cooked up out of nowhere. Because I don’t hide from these things anymore and I am not ashamed, I just get ‘em out there and laugh at them. I don’t laugh at yours or anyone else’s- and you shouldn’t do that to people: but, laugh at it, ask questions like “The automatic door locks work, right? They’re locked in back there and they’re not gonna fall out on the interstate?” whatever. You’ll find reality tends to be less hellish than your brain is trying to tell you.
When that person is you- or rather, your own trauma reaction: the thing to understand is, this is a long process and it does take time. People who tell you that you can just fart rainbow happy glitter and think happy thoughts it away- they’re stupid assholes. Don’t let them make you feel like a turd. If I ever seem like I am saying you can do that- you call my ass out on it.
But coming to the point that you understand that your trauma is lying to you- that’s a big deal. Insert some tired ass cliche about first steps being the biggest- but, that is the first step. From there, though, the work begins- and it is a slog. Oh it is. It’s a slog that has its ups and downs and requires some serious self knowledge, accountability and understanding. By accountability- I never, ever mean your role in whatever it was that happened. No, I mean, your role in your recovery from it. That role will never be a passive one.
It will, however, be the most powerful and freeing role you ever have.
And it is totally worth it.