Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Shameless Bad Days

Lately, I've had more opportunities to explore some trying "bad" days, and I'm finding ease in not handling them very well.
That is to say: I'm handling them better than I would have 7 years ago, pre-recovery.
And I'm also handling them worse than I did two years ago when I was oblivious to the grip perfectionism held (holds) on me.  On those bad days, I worked hard to do everything right.

Reach out.
Use tools.
Good food.

After a few days of "perfect" behavior, I'd inevitably crash and burn, unable to keep up with my own expectations.

A couple of days ago, a trauma trigger hit in a hard way. A comment was made about my looks that hurt.
I cried on the spot, and I cried hard.

Does it matter what other people think of me?  The way I look?
Not really.
What does matter is my own self-worth and acceptance.

But guess what?  It still HURT.

So I let myself cry, and I prayed and I cried to a few safe women about it.  The next day, I knew I'd want to numb out.  I knew I'd want to exclusively eat the gingerbread and frosting I'd made the day before.  I knew I'd find a series on Netflix to curl up with.  I knew I had no appointments during the day.

I reached out.
I prayed.
I talked about my susceptibility to numbing.  I talked about my pain.

Then I curled up on the couch with a stomach ache and a three year old and dozed off while she watched a cartoon.
Did I eat gingerbread and frosting?  YES!  Exclusively?  ALMOST!
Did I numb out to a movie?  NO!  Did I keep a movie going in the background while I got the house ready for feeding the sister missionaries?  YES!

I ate a nourishing dinner... and then more frosting.

It wasn't awesome, but it wasn't despair either.  I didn't do the day PERFECTLY, but I DID THE DAY and I prayed and told God I was hurting and not coping well.

Today will be a day of repentance -something else I'm learning to remove the shame from.

I love Baron Baptiste's take on repentance.  It was a game-shifter for me.
From page 6 of his book, "40 Days to a Personal Revolution," we read:
"...I came to understand that what he [Brahmacharya] meant by repentance wasn't that we should dwell on where we lost our way and all the ways we are bad, but rather to have the courage to face the pure, unsweetened truth of ourselves so that we can move on and grow in more honest and authentic ways.  It is simply the willingness to see in full truthfulness what we need to face within ourselves and our lives so that we might get into the right alignment.  As Jesus taught, it is always the truth that sets us free."

So today is a new chance to seek for alignment once again, to look for my own unsweetened truth.  And what is that pure truth?

I'm finding it isn't initially clear to me in situations where I'm right up against pain.  It's like one of those science projects where you look at a slide under a microscope while the teacher asks you -smiling all the while -what it is.
And you have no answer because it just looks like a confusing mess of messes.
"It's thread," they say, or maybe, "skin" or "oil."
THEN you see it.  THEN you can't NOT see it.

Being up against pain is like that for me.  While I'm up close and right up against it, I can't tell what it is or what's going on at all.  I just sit with it and stare at it and it hurts so much.  I talk about it and I eat about it.
As the days roll by and more distance is placed between pain and Alicia, I start to get clear about what I'm dealing with.  I start to be able to see what's going on.

It's as if I'm able to "zoom out" from my microscopic slide and gain some clarity about what I was up against.

Yesterday, I was still too close to the pain to make anything out of it.  I only prayed this prayer:
"Heavenly Father, I'm hurting.  I don't want to numb out.  I don't want to stay in victim.  But I DO want to remain completely true to where I am and what I'm feeling."

Am I always honest with myself?  NO.  This is something I'm learning, like a newborn learning how to walk.

I ended my prayer and listened to myself and what did I need?  To sleep some more because my stomach hurt.

So I didn't "do" yesterday perfectly according to my old standards of perfect, but today, I feel like I can begin to apply repentance.  I can see some of the "pure" truth about myself:

I use sugar as a Savior.
I can use the Savior and my Savior.

I am deeply affected by others' opinions about me.
I can someday access a place where I'm not.

I can also see the beauty in my sensitivities.  I can see that my body needs love and caring, and I can honor that today with some yoga (which I skipped yesterday) and some green juice (I skipped any and all greens yesterday).

In Tutu's, "Book of Forgiving," he tells us that in order to forgive others, we need to tell our story.  We need to talk about what happened, and I DID that with God and a few friends.  When we're ready, we'll be able to name our pain.
We'll be able to name our pain as we tell our story.
"This happened, and I feel ___________."

This morning, I woke up and was able to say, "That happened, and I feel rejected."

That's why it hurt so much!  Because as a wife going through betrayal trauma, feeling rejected because of physical appearance cuts on a very deep level -for me.

So I'm logging off to roll out my mat.
I'm logging off to get some greens in on top of the frosting I downed a few minutes ago.
I can go to my meeting and drink my favorite herb tea, slather on some oils to help nurture what's been hurt, and look around and find God.
And laugh, for crying out loud.  Because I thrive on laughter.

I might fall on my face, and that's okay too.

I choose to TRY to tap into realignment today, and I didn't yesterday -not fully.
That's where I am.
This is me being true and honest with me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Candy Apples and PTSD

My sponsor has often said that recovery for a woman married to a sex addict takes 3 to 5 years.  It's a grim thing to hear when you're in the first 3 months or years, and I'm here to say that I feel like I'm finally getting there after 6 1/2 years.

My days are spent free from obsession, though not from fear.  But I now have the clarity to access a life where I take action to choose to NOT act on fear.  I own a lot of my own choices now, in a way I never thought possible before.  I have a new lease on life.

But guess what?
This new life, with it's new perspectives and insights and serenity, still isn't free from everything.  Last night, after a perfectly nice day and holiday, I was triggered.

By a candy apple.

What?!  Doesn't the sheer dumbness of it all make you mad?!  It makes me mad.

Triggers are those insane things that happen without warning!  They put your head at war with your heart, and emotions fly around as fast as your heart pumps!


I've been hard at work in the kitchen these days because I genuinely love cooking.  I go through these hobby patterns where I delve into something I love for weeks at a time and then leave it for something else.  I vacillate between cooking and crocheting and making sock monkeys, mostly.  I always write, that one never cycles out.

On Halloween, I made apple glazed pork chops with a side of the most delicious apple sauce.  I made homemade mashed potatoes to go alongside.  It was a feast!  And when I went to bed that night, the dishes were done.  It felt so good. These last few days, I've baked and cooked in my favorite Loretta Lynn apron that I bought right by her house in Hurricane Mills.  That's me on the porch of her haunted mansion.  That Loretta is one tough cookie, and I gotta say: her spit fire got me outta bed on some of my darkest trauma days.
 I've watched Hope Floats while washing dishes, and most of all: I made 3 batches of caramel apples.
Not JUST caramel apples because I don't actually like caramel apples... but the caramel apples that are dunked in caramel and then white chocolate and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
I feel like I need to quote Jason from Studio C right here, "We just made diabetes land!"

These apples are so diabolical that they leave our home VOID of charity.

I gave a few away to visiting teaching ladies (sorry I missed you this month, but here's something better than a visit.  Don't share it), and I gave a few to my parents.

I was looking forward to eating my last one last night, and Danny ended up eating more than his fair share and I had to share mine.

It isn't a huge deal.  Mildly irritating?  Eh.
But anger hit hard.

I could hear a chorus of my counselors' voices, "Anger is a secondary emotion."

I wasn't actually mad.  I was scared.

Taking more than his fair share of THE apples was a TAKEY thing to do!  After I've given SO MUCH.  I've given pork chops and apple sauce AND APPLES!  What's more?  I've made apple syrup and apple pancakes and APPLE CIDER!  I've bought bacon which is a real treat when you've only got so much money but you've got so many kids and food goes in mouths as fast as it goes in fridges.
I've made delicious dinners over and over and over.  My hands are cracked from washing dishes as the weather dries and cools (who needs a dishwasher when you are one? that's what my dad says anyway...) and all I wanted was to enjoy my addicting annual caramel apple.
My last one, anyway.

And I couldn't.

There's been an unhealthy history in our marriage of me giving, giving, giving and Danny taking.  I wasn't setting healthy boundaries.  I wasn't even giving from a loving place.  I was hoping my giving would eventually end his addiction, or at least manipulating him in SEEING ME.
It didn't work, of course, because real life doesn't work like that.

That way of life was hell on earth, and any hint of it in this new life scares me to pieces.

I didn't want to talk to Danny about it.  I just went inside of myself and isolated.  When the kids went to bed, I opened up and told Danny that I was mad.  I told him why.  And I told him trauma was at work.
Over an apple.

I told him I knew in my mind my anger was disproportionate, and that's what trauma looks like.  It doesn't make me stupid for "overreacting."  It distorts my reality and messes with my head in a way that feel *almost* irretrievable.
I used to feel shame for that.  I think I still do feel some shame for it.
The shame makes it exponentially worse because I begin hating on myself for exhibiting trauma -it makes feel like some kind of crazy freak and WHO ACCEPTS CRAZY FREAKS?!?!

No one, right?
Jesus does.

And the trigger isn't true.  I don't live a life where I only ever give, and Danny doesn't only ever take.  In fact, when I was isolating, he was putting soap in the bathroom soap dispenser and finishing up the dishes so I wouldn't have to.  He was hanging up my wet laundry and picking up the bathroom.

But even if he wasn't, I can rest in my own boundaries.  I can give as much as feel healthy.
I can make crazy amounts of dinners right now (and hopefully freeze some) and feel self love.  I can NOT make crazy amounts of dinners right now but make crazy amounts of sock monkeys while my family eats frozen dinners and Subway and feel self love.

The trauma is real though, folks.
And the very fact that a caramel apple can send me into a tail spin of fear is evidence of just how hellish the trauma is.  My entire being is terrified to go back to that place.

And for good reason, for good reason.

Today is a day for nurturing which means I'm back in the kitchen with my Loretta Lynn apron, making some granola and muffins and whatever else asks to be made.  It's a day to listen to what I need, to not let the trigger rule the day.
It's a new day, a new life.
And I'm feelin' good.