My last post was written, as are many of mine, in a moment of intense introspection and weariness. Out of a desire for things to just feel better, and to do better, and have better. I frequently write from the bottom looking up. I believe that it's important to share those moments, to offer real vulnerability and to admit that I am not some pillar of humanity and motherhood who has her shit together 'in spite of it all'. I'm not. I'm fumbling through this just like anyone else- maybe even more than most- and sometimes the tools I have to cope are inadequate, or my focus is off, priorities or brain power scrambled.
I do have things to work on that have become sore spots in my life. Things that have damaged some relationships or driven me further from my goals. And I've realized, sometimes slowly, over this last year in particular, that those things (namely my panic reactions, and to be vulnerably honest, my housekeeping) have to be addressed, and will be a thing I don't just get over, but have to be mindful of and working on for the rest of my life.
Although the discovering of these elements of myself has been often painful and embarrassing, I still think it's important to come to them with transparency. It is no longer acceptable to me to live in chaos, physically or emotionally. If I continue to do so, the next half of my life will look just like the first half, with me running from one wreck to the next, looking for places to hide from myself.
I want to be honest about those things, and the feelings that fueled them, even when it's uncomfortable to do so. I want to offer a full picture, of a whole, complex human being, as someone who embraces hope and still struggles with despair. I'm learning that at this point, trying to do that, especially when you don't dig out a good clear window of time between the feeling and the sharing, will alienate some people. I'm wondering if I share too much, or the wrong things, and sometimes, I'm wondering if the people who doubt me or follow another narrative they've decided on as truth, are right. Whether I should persist in telling my truth in each moment for the sake of transparency and fallibility, or I should work harder to cultivate a more thoughtful, planned out story.
The truth is that I am most often described as 'intense.' And that's accurate. It's something I both love about myself and work to bring under control, lest it get the better of me, as it has many, many times.
I don't want to talk about trauma and panic because I want to elicit some feeling of empathy or sympathy or be told how amazing I am. I want to talk about it because it has impacted me in a multitude of negative ways, and I need my life to reflect more than that about me. My fear will not be the story of my family. Because it's hard work, because I often felt alone in it, and because I know that in truth, I was never alone in it. BUT I DIDN'T FUCKING KNOW THAT. People in the middle of it, they don't know they're not alone in it.
None if this is to say that my life is tragic, or my kiddo's life is tragic, or that we have ever come upon the worst of experiences. The truth is, we're beyond lucky, even when it feels like shit. It's just to say that the fear of these things can sometimes eat up a lot of the good in your life, and even if it does, it's not too late to turn around. And I don't want you to miss out on those good things any more than you have to.
I hope to share my self-work and my real emotions in a way that doesn't convey misery, but does tell anyone who needs to hear it, that I've been scared all the time, and scared of imaginary things, and running away from myself sometimes, too. Mental health is a big ol' topic du jour, full of buzzwords and clickbait. I'm not here to Elephant Journal my way through it with platitudes. It may be one of my toughest writing assignments to date, because I have a lot to consider in regards to how in-depth I want to get with it. But to be perfectly candid, I could use the practice on presentation, and I do feel like I have something of value to offer by sharing my own experiences.
If you feel like any of that may be of value, bear with me. I'm working on curbing my fight-or-flight response and exposure therapy for social anxiety. Do you know how weird it is to realize, as an extremely extroverted human being, that you have genuine social anxiety and have developed and entire repertoire of behaviors to avoid certain social situations? It's weird, man. It's real weird. However, there's a fun aspect to this. Being able to now see my issues from the outside, and look at them objectively while still feeling them, is fascinating.
I used to have panic attacks that manifested as just intense feelings of anxiety and avoidance. Since embarking on this particular endeavor into self-improvement, the anxiety feelings have waned because I can easily name them and talk them off the ledge. So now I don't really feel emotionally anxious, but I'll start tingling in my hands and gasping for breath without ever feeling upset. But the more I know and understand about the physiological processes that cause this, the more control I have over them, and how I react to them, and in turn, the amount of success I have in managing them and how they impact those close to me. I have a tremendous community and support system, and it's important to remind myself of this when I want to retreat and not talk about the things that set me on edge.
To be stupid clear- I'm a show-off. I love having a good report card. I'm equally proud of being voted 'most improved.' I like to show just how great I am at doing things, and I have a tremendous opportunity to master something here that has previously held me back from some types of success that I REALLY REALLY WANT. So the conclusion we can come to, as a class, is that I'm not likely to shut up, I may have to be reminded to check the melodrama, (and I may throw myself on the fainting couch and call for my smelling salts) but I'm going to do my best to keep shit real.
(Post Script- something is funky on my keyboard and it tabs every time I type "I ." I keep going back to fix it, but it doesn't always work. Pretend you don't see it.)