October 26, 2020
The pandemic has allowed me time alone, to heal from all of the things that I unearthed, looked at, and figured out during therapy. While I was going through therapy, I just never had the time to do it. There was always something out there to distract me; a trip, drinking too much with friends, or some other distraction. I felt better, but I hadn't really processed everything fully.
Living with, as well as healing from, trauma feels like swimming. I love water, and love how it feels to float along. But it's more like swimming in an ocean. It's super unpredictable. The waves may come and sweep you away for a bit.
Or, it's like the old Wave pool at Geauga Lake: you knew when the wave was coming, because you hear the alarm. You have that split second to decide whether you're going to run, or if you're going to stand in the way of the incoming waves.
I've been standing in the way. Some days, I feel like my head is being held underwater; all of these thoughts start swirling. My decisions leave me at deciding whether I am going to let the negative feedback loop play, or if I'm going to look at things objectively.
I see the reasons I made a lot of the decisions I did in my "romantic" life. I see the reasons I made the decisions I did with certain friendships. I understand now why it takes me forever to get things done. I understand why I haven't always been able to do things that I love on a daily basis.
I also understand that I am not always right. I've been a terrible friend to people, because dealing with other people's emotions sounded absolutely exhausting. I wasn't really even dealing with mine for a really long time. I was a dick to people. I've used people. I maintained friendships with people who were in some ways more fucked up than me, which put me in a lot of really unsafe situations.
A lot of it for me has been based in a complete lack of self esteem. I grew up in a situation where I wasn't allowed to have my own feelings, or experiences. My mother manipulated me for years, and I didn't have another parent who was capable of seeing it, or doing anything about it. For years, I felt abandoned, and unlovable, because that's how my parents made me feel. I also spent time with a lot of men over the years who also made me feel that way. In the past, I found myself in so many intimate situations with men who hated themselves, and also didn't care about me.
My weight had a lot to do with it. I know we live in this fantasy world of "body positivity", but I can say with absolute certainty that body positivity never worked for me. I had therapists trying to tell me that "radical acceptance" included my body, and I could never get on board with that. I knew for a long time that my body was built by shame, grief, and a desire to keep people away from me. It also didn't help that nobody ever asked me, "hey, what's wrong?" It was always just shitty comments about how fat I was, from friends, neighbors, classmates, strangers on the internet, friends pretending to be strangers on the internet. I've lost a significant amount of weight since 2018. And I did it for myself. I did it so that I could begin to heal, without that constant reminder of my body, oversized and unruly. The whole "being able to do shit that I was never physically able to" and the self esteem boost has been a total plus.
In 2015, I moved in with my husband. We had only been together a few months at that point, but knew that yes, we wanted to be together, so yes, we were gonna get a place and see how it went. I remember sitting in my apartment and immediately thinking "I can't fuck this one up." And that's when Project You Gotta Heal started. I went to therapy. I did neurofeedback. Yoga. And eventually, I had that moment of complete surrender of my old life, and went full throttle into trauma therapy. I did group therapy on ACT and a section of DBT for emotional regulation (i hadn't been able to have my own emotions for a long time, so I didn't really know what to do with my own). I stopped feeling bad about being broken. I kept going to therapy, went through a lot of big events while I was there, and only recently have I been able to really grieve and process.
This year, I ended friendships that were no longer healthy. I am a boss at laying down boundaries with my family. I speak to everyone differently, including myself.
I finally got tired of just existing. I am lucky to have a life that is fun, and colorful, and a partner who is down for exploring and traveling. But now, I feel like I will be able to enjoy my life more, and be more present when I'm at a show or in a mall.
The anxiety has been tough to deal with. The broken parts of my brain are still telling me that I'm terrible, that I'm a piece of shit who nobody really loves. But I know now that is my brain protecting me, because I'm now actually able to take some chances, try new things, and feel good about myself.
It's all so weird and new, but I am getting used to it.