A mild quarrel

I had plenty of sleep last night, and woke up feeling lively. My son and I danced, and made stamp pictures, and talked about Pokemon, and were out earlier than usual to get some things to supplement our breakfast from the local shop, which we then enjoyed as a sort of mini morning picnic on our picnic step close to where I alarmed some passers-by the other day. I was having a lovely time.

And then it all changed. And not because something terrible happened. But because I was involved in what was, probably, from the outside, a mild quarrel, but what my brain perceived as me being accused of being such a terrible mother and all round person that it was barely believable.

I won’t be so uncouth as to go into further detail, but it’s fair to say that, while my brain had plenty of fodder saved up to fuel that interpretation for me, it probably wasn’t what was actually happening, and even if it was, my body did not need to take it so personally.

I always feel ashamed when my trigger gets pulled. For being so weak as to allow it. Giving someone that kind of power over me is a deeply troubling occurrence. But I also get inarticulate and kind of stupid; I lose all the faculties that my most primitive sense of self-worth is attributed to.

The shame is compounded when my son is a witness. Yuck, I never want him to see me like that. Disempowered. Reactive. Defensive. Small. I want to be able to lead him by example through difficult conversations with equanimity, compassion, curiosity, and integrity. In those moments, I fall woefully short of the standards I strive towards. I worry that all the good work I have done will be somehow undone in a moment of weakness.

I am fairly confident this shame spiral is an over-reaction. I am fairly confident that – based on everything I know about trauma, shame, people – if I was an outsider looking in, I would deem it a gross over-reaction. But I’m not an outsider looking in.

I have spent the day trying to recover from this fucking mild quarrel where nothing particularly bad happened. Luckily (or maybe unluckily), it happened on a Sunday, when my only expectations of myself were to run and to write. There was plenty of time to dig in.

I can always tell when I’ve been thrown out of myself because I roam the house looking for anything and nothing. I also do this when I’m excited, but when I’m excited the roaming is an attempt to regulate the surge of energy coursing through me. When the gun’s been fired I’m looking for something to fill the void where the bullet once was. I caught myself doing this within minutes of being left to my own devices, at about half eleven this morning. It took me until half nine tonight to get myself back.

And I am back. I’m good. If that’s what it took then that’s what it took. It used to take longer. Be nice if it didn’t take anything.

One and the same

I learned fairly recently from a source I now can’t place that emotional trauma and physical trauma are essentially one and the same to the body. Which, I mean, I already knew in the context of understanding and dealing with trauma, but what I hadn’t considered up to that point was the implications for, for instance, exercise and recovery. Because if you experience emotional trauma and then do a workout, your body is now going to have two things to recover from. If something really bad happens in your life, it’s probably not a brilliant idea to push yourself too hard physically, even though that’s a fairly common reaction for people to have.

But it’s a tricky line, because exercise is often a healthy coping strategy for all kinds of psychological ailments and burdens. So the fact that they are equatable doesn’t mean they are necessarily additive. Does physical recovery train your body to deal better with emotional recovery? Does the low-grade physical trauma of exertion give your body something it knows how to do, providing some relief from what can be very mysterious psychological chaos? Does healing one heal the other?

This is on my mind because, late last night, I broke through into a little nugget of trauma I’d been unknowingly holding onto for the last five years. And, although it was an altogether positive experience, and I processed the revelation well, and then I even let myself sleep a little later; today I have felt very tired and flat. And I wondered, is my body recovering from a hefty emotional workout? Because there isn’t any other obvious reason for my low energy.

I don’t think it’s my exercise regime, because day four of daily running has seen an easing of the leg aches and I felt great striding out today.

I am too tired to dig into this further, but I have many speculations swirling in my head to make manifest another day.

Lay me down

Lately, I have been waking up in the middle of the night, because my brain has decided that that is a good time to worry about all the things I’ve said and done the previous day, and how I shouldn’t have said or done them, or should have said and done them differently.

That’s not a usual thing for me to do. And it’s really not helping my already precarious sleeping situation.

But it might make sense. My son started school part-time this week, and thus I’ve been spending a lot of time driving around and whiling away aimless, unproductive hours here and there in between my childcare duties. I’ve also spent a lot more time than usual with his dad, with whom I have a festering wound of a relationship, to be quite frank about it. And on top of that (or, more likely, because of it) I’m feeling an increasing pressure to conform to societies expectations; get a respectable full-time job and a home closer to the city. Be more like Daddy.

But I’m not like Daddy.

And I don’t want to be like Daddy. I want to be like Me. The full and glorious, spectacular Me that Daddy never really understood. There’s a lot of noise and distraction in my head right now, and I probably just have to ride out the turbulence. But I’d be doing everyone a disservice if I caved now. Yeah, I want some of the things that Daddy has. And, yeah, I fucking resent him for having them and that’s an issue I’ll just have to keep working on. But compromising myself to try to get them isn’t going to lead me anywhere good.

And it certainly isn’t modelling the values I want to nurture in my son. He doesn’t want me to be like Daddy either; he wants me to be like Me. He might even need me to be like Me, so that he can learn it’s entirely acceptable to be exactly whoever He is.

I need to get real here. I need to be able to withstand the dissonance I’m experiencing right now. Because this is my life. It isn’t anybody else’s. I have the privilege and responsibility of making my decisions. Past traumas, criticism, external judgements, self-doubt; I need to stop paying attention to them. I need to stop giving them power.

My goal has never been a comfortable life. My goal has been an extraordinary one. And every time I bail out and choose comfort, because I’m too scared that the people who say what I should want is a comfortable life are right, I’m failing myself. I can’t keep failing myself. I only get one shot at this. And I’m a fucking good shooter. Why would I shoot for a team other than my own?