Skip to main content

A Day Off


When I started this blog a few months back, I only intended to write maybe two or three times a week. Instead, I've kept a steady stream of posts going every weekday. I've found it's been a necessary and helpful outlet to express my thoughts, and also for me to observe how things are shifting and changing as I process the effects of abuse in my life.

I am a professional writer and I am accustomed to the discipline of writing every day, but I never intended for this blog to become something I do with my professional hat on. I wanted it and needed it to be something I do for me, without rules, or a feeling of obligation of daily maintenance. As a writer, I know the trap of feeling guilty about not writing.

Yesterday, I was feeling particularly fried. Emotional flashbacks are particularly intense for me around holidays, and Mother's Day and Father's day are some of the most difficult days of the year. Father's Day reminds me that I never really had a father. I had an abuser. And while I am happy and relieved to know there are so many great fathers out there that my friends gush about on social media, I am also acutely aware of what it feels like to not have one. So, with that, and with some deep level processing from EMDR therapy, my whole body froze up. My migraines returned, my hamstrings seized up so I could barely walk. My nerves were doing funny things, and parts of my face went numb. My brain felt hot and swollen, a sensation I'm now figuring out is directly linked to my processing. I did some serious heavy lifting in therapy, and my body told me about it.

So Monday, I took the day off. I checked myself into a spa, and I soaked, baked, stretched, breathed, and relaxed all day. After about three hours, I unwound enough to be able to take a nap. This is huge, because I am often exhausted, but too wound up to be able to nap. I am a fan of TRE, which is a tension release exercise that helps with trauma. I twitched and shook all day long. It was an entire day of much needed self-care.

Processing trauma is difficult work, and I am learning that self-care is not some indulgent, bored housewife thing. For a survivor of trauma, it's critical. As someone who was denied a "self" in childhood, it is about learning to reclaim it. My need for quiet space and time to reflect seems to be more pronounced than the average person, and I am learning that it's okay to require the time. I am learning, more and more, on a deeper level, how to better listen and care for myself.

It's amazing progress. And even though trauma recovery is hard work, it is good work. I believe it is lifesaving work. It is never too late to liberate yourself from the effects of abuse. Choosing to feel difficult feelings for the sake of releasing them is far better than living with the mask on, disconnected, and vulnerable to the lies and fears that keep you stuck. Ask me how I know.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

No, There Are Not Two Sides

I was in a meeting where a mediator was trying her best to stay impartial to a situation where a large volume of well-documented verbal and emotional abuse had occurred. She was a trained professional, but professionally speaking, she didn't want to be in a position to take sides on the issue. She offered the worn-out platitude, "Well, there are two sides to every story..." I let it slide the first time she said it, but when she said it again, I stopped her.

"Actually, when it comes to abuse, there are not two sides. There is abuse, and there is the recipient of abuse. The recipient of abuse is not at fault for the actions of the abuser."

Her jaw dropped a moment, then she nodded slowly. She knew I was right, and in this moment, a light went on. The situation she was mediating was not about two people having a disagreement. It was about a serial abuser attacking someone else who had done nothing to provoke the attack. She couldn't stay impartial. It was h…

The Difference Between Trauma and Anxiety

I've been living with the effects of complex trauma for a long time, but for many years I didn't know what it was. Off and on throughout my life, I've struggled with what I thought was anxiety and depression. Or rather, In addition to being traumatized, I was anxious and depressed. 

All mental health is a serious matter, and should never be minimized. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it's important and urgent to find the right support for you. No one gets a prize for "worst" depression, anxiety, trauma or any other combination of terrible things to deal with, and no one should suffer alone. With that in mind, there is a difference between what someone who has CPTSD feels and what someone with generalized anxiety or mild to moderate depression feels.

For someone dealing with complex trauma, the anxiety they feel does not come from some mysterious unknown source or obsessing about what could happen. For many, the anxiety they feel is not rational. Gene…

Yes, They Meant To Hurt You

One of the best ways to spot a toxic person is to confront them about their behavior when you've been hurt. Toxic people will immediately act more hurt than you. They will almost always overreact and become extremely defensive at the slightest suggestion they did something wrong or malicious. They will feign shock  that you would ever suggest they do anything to hurt you. Not only will they minimize and deny any wrongdoing, they will twist the situation around to make you feel ashamed and guilty, hyper-focusing on a more "important" problem: their own bruised ego. How could you ever suspect them of doing such a horrible thing?! Bonus points if they need smelling salts after fainting from their perfectly executed melodrama. 
The histrionics and high drama are a deflection from the truth. Yes, they meant to hurt you. No, they won't ever admit it, and yes, they will make your life a living hell if you try to hold them accountable for their own bad behavior. 
A normal p…