Running away, with love

Running away means survival so you don’t get hit or pushed around or subdued.  It has nothing to do with love.  It’s about fear, nursing wounds, living to fight another day.  Self-preservation.

But this year has opened my mind further than I ever thought possible.  I’ve nearly crossed the threshold from survivor to thriver.  I’m starting to fight back wisely, more clear-headed, and the happiest I’ve ever been.

As our first anniversary was approaching, Magic Man took us on a long journey across the miles, over the river and through the woods to meet our parents.  The further we drove the lighter our emotional suitcases became, until we were lighthearted with the relief.  Escaping with a purposeful goal was just what the doctor ordered.

We did not care what anyone thought.  We were all giddy children in a Caddy having the time of our lives.  Being in love is magic in itself.  Running away, with love, blew my mind.   It was such a new concept to me and took some getting used to.  But I did it, and I loved every second of it.


The Quiet Adventure

destiny wayEmbarking on a new adventure in life comes with its own risks, pitfalls and exhilaration.  Sometimes the adventure is front-page news..  other times, done quietly.

My writing is my life and I truly believe to my core that without it, I’d still be grasping to make sense of myself.  This blog has run for two years now, quietly and happily.  I grew tremendously with every post I published.  It enabled me to have the first healthy love relationship.  I’m happy, sexually and emotionally.  The PTSD is always there, waiting, but at least it is not killing the moments.

Lately I’ve been silent and introspective.  I’ve been standing at the crossroad, wondering which way to go.  Between the health issues and matters I will discuss in my own good time, there were times I nearly shut the book on myself.

Some people write only one genre.  I love all of it, especially writing erotica.  It is a part of my recovery from domestic violence and rape.  It’s my quiet adventure.   But not everyone’s into it and I must respect that.

So the crossroads… Do I quit or press on… fight or flight..  and the biggest question of all,

How much do I want the quiet adventure?

The answer is, very much.  I want it.  I may not be the best writer, but I have the guts to do it, and I can.

Right now I’m working on my quiet adventure in a private blog by invitation only.  It’s a manuscript blog.  All of my followers can  join if they choose.   For those of you that just visit but don’t follow, post a comment requesting an invitation.

 


Cosmic Wedgies

When I was a young girl, my mother’s favorite method of discipline in public was to very slyly slip her hand around our waist and whisper in our ear quite gently that we’d better knock it off… as her index finger just as slyly caught the waistband of our undies, giving it a not-as-gentle tug upward.

Forget spankings, or yelling, or threatening.  A public wedgie was the most effective way to shut us up when we were harassing her for a bucket of ice cream or the latest big-label attire she couldn’t afford- and it was her way of diffusing her frustration too.

She’d start to chuckle as she watched us try to continue whining for what we wanted, with our delicates practically pulled up to our ears.  My mother was a domestic violence survivor, but she was gentle and lived to laugh.   She found humor in the smallest things when life was at its worst.   Sarcasm was her middle name, homemade parody ditties her hallmark.

Not surprisingly, being clever kids, one of us refused to wear underpants from thereon out.   I still laugh with the memory of seeing my mother’s jaw drop as my young sister sailed by us in a cartwheel – bare legs, wearing nothing under her short skirt, and nothing to be disciplined with.

I do believe my mother is my guardian angel, so when she hauls a big tug deeply inside of me (usually publicly, because that’s when wedgies have their best effect) I know there is something wrong in my life I need to address.

Today I visited an ill friend in one of the hospitals my mother was admitted into before her final ascent.  I held his hand and listened as I remembered being here for what felt like such a long time ago.

Honestly, I didn’t want to be here.  Memories were distracting.  The hall’s faint whiff of disinfected death was overwhelming.  And my heart hurt, missing her.  But I’ve been stronger lately and I held out for several hours, thinking to myself, “This is such a wedgie moment.”

I don’t know if guardian angels can be loaned out but I asked for it.  Hopefully my voice was heard, and my friend will be saved with her cosmic wedgie – and my underpants can take a break.


Magic Man

My Soulmate on Aisle 7  laughs, plays, and smiles, and loves.  We talk and talk and talk.  I never tire of the softness of his words.  Lately I’ve nicknamed him the Magic Man.  We are nearing the ninth month of a relationship.  That in itself is magic at work.

He believes in Heaven, loves rainbows, sees triple digits, and gives generous amounts of care to the intricacy of growth flowering in his garden.  He is a gatherer, a gardener, and a lover of unparalleled comparisons.  He is absent of triggers.  That has blown my mind.

I’ve seen my little anxious child transform into a somewhat less fearful soul.  She takes small risks now, and does not mind if she gets a little dirty having fun.  He taught her to climb a tree and ride her bike.  A year ago, she would have an anxiety attack on her training wheels.   Magic Man waved his wand, and suddenly she is not afraid as much.  She is not as afraid to sleep on her own now.  Her counselor is so pleased.

My doctor chuckles when Magic Man accompanies me, for his funny bone pokes out into others ribs until they can’t help laughing a little.   I go to the doctor often now, much more than I used to have to do.  Stress is a killer.  I wrote recently about the mind-body connection  of PTSD and how it harms a person.  I’ll be in a nephrologist’s care in two weeks.

Magic Man wears his heart on his sleeve, even when it means it might get torn to shreds by those hurting.  He offers all he has, open-handed.  It’s the trait of one who’s done the Work and the Steps, being sober for nine years.  Empathy is a natural evolving process in sobriety.

Well, I just read what I wrote, and I’m shaking my head.  Clearly, I’m under a spell, a love potion, and in love with Magic.

 


Two years of Recovery Writing today

*blip*

Well, shucks!  Break out the Scooby snacks.  WordPress sent me a Congratulations on Two Years just now.

I laughed a little when I got the message.   I’ve not posted much lately, but have a ton of half-written drafts awaiting publish.

My voice inside has been unusually calm and not because I haven’t had anything useful to say.  Most of my energy lately has been consumed by precocious third-graders.  I’ve really enjoyed volunteering in a reading group, watching them grow in phases.   Helping children learn seemed to foster a sense of recovery my own methods of recovery fell short of.   Recovery writing can turn (me) into a hermit crab.  It was hard to get out of my PTSD shell, but I did it, and it felt great.

And now it’s over (until next year), but I truly enjoyed this year’s teacher, who was such an inspirational woman and glued me back together on my birthday with such care.  I haven’t posted about that, yet.

For anyone who noticed.. yes, my archives only go back to October of 2012, here.  I’ve been a WordPress member since June of 2012 and ran an anonymous blog about the daily life of me.  It was blunt, and raw,  a documentation journal, and probably the second most terrifying and liberating experience I’ve ever had.


“The Fourth Anniversary” a writing exercise

phone pics 574We all have dark days we mark on our mental calendars.  Anniversaries aren’t meant to be only celebrations.  Sometimes they’re observed as the days of tragedy.

Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary I sat in a courtroom with a domestic violence advocate and a police officer at my side.

Ironically, it was my birthday that day.  I had just turned 40.  In a strange way, it felt as if it were a death day.  I haven’t celebrated my birthday since 2010 the way others would want to celebrate.  It was ominous and dreadful to me.  An anniversary of a dark time.  A remembrance of plague.

This year I tried it differently.  I celebrated my birthday a few days early.  The intent was to redirect my mind and be joyous that I’m alive.  We had a relaxed party with a handful of close friends and relatives, cake, Easter egg painting and a roaring fire.

I can’t say the joy was as sweet as I wanted it to be, for my child took her mads out on her bicycle as a guest arrived-  leaving bits of basket scattered, and banging her dancer’s ankle to bluish.  She was so angry, but couldn’t figure out what she was angry about.  She blamed it on the bicycle and so proceeded to kick and scream at it until it fell over despite the training wheels.  She hid behind a tree, sobbing.  She didn’t know what was wrong.  She just knew something was.

I never really asked the guest how he perceived the incident, for one minute she was smiling and riding near his car, the next minute she was gone and there was an angry child.  I never asked him how much he saw of the pink bicycle being beaten up.   I never asked him if he saw me drop everything and run to where she stopped.   I never asked if he saw me approach her slowly with outstretched hands, or saw me get down on one knee several feet from her.

I knew better than to grab her.  That escalates her and she runs.   She taught me the hard way to give her time to make sense of what’s happening.

She was lividly rigid, unable to speak coherently, cheeks pink, nostrils flaring.  This is the child others rarely see.   I wish I could say I was completely calm.  Maybe on the outside I seemed to be, but inside I was frightened.

Once the rage calmed and she came back to center, she clung to me for a long time, and I held her with love.  I carried her into the safe house.  She was crying, so frightened of how she’d behaved and if her bicycle would ever forgive her.

She hadn’t quite forgiven herself- but bound and determined, she jumped back on that bike later after we collected the broken parts and she rode it the rest of the evening.

I suspect for her this time is a dark anniversary, when everything she thought she knew turned upside down.  We seem to go through our cycles together around this time of year.

I was hoping maybe things would be different for her if it were different for me.   We collectively share the dark anniversaries, yet we are unique in our ways of handling our feelings.  As old as I feel, sometimes it seems like I should have tenure to control how she feels or what she thinks.

But, as young as she is, her feelings are valid.  As young as she is, she has the right to express her feelings- however dark and angry.  I have no control over her feelings, perceptions, or her thoughts.  I have no control over what happened.

But I won’t lie.  I wish I could snap my fingers and whisk away the pain she doesn’t understand.


The PTSD Mind-Body Connection

It’s taken nearly two weeks to convince Shirley Girly there’s more to life than hiding behind the couch with the dust bunnies.   The little wisp of smoke decided she could show her whiskers in public.

She’s becoming fond of  timidly claiming my lap in the evenings as the other two felines fight for the alpha’s lap next to me.  Though Shirley appears outwardly calm, her muscles tense under my hands.  She doesn’t like noise, or cats arguing who gets where.   She’s clearly afraid of children, fast movements and tall, loud people.  The sound of them turns her into an armpit ostrich, instantly – with a matching set of clawed boxing gloves ready to swing.  I often wonder if she’s having nightmares when she jolts awake for no reason.

Even though trauma happened to her long ago, she clearly has bad moments and spells triggered by little things.   Shirley is probably the closest animal I’ve seen to having post-traumatic stress.  She has psychogenic alopecia (a soothing method turned into obsessive grooming) and is missing about half the hair on her body.  On the outside it’s crystal clear she is anxious 24/7.  She grooms to keep herself calm.

It’s obvious we know anxiety affects us.  What happens to the body inside when we are anxious and afraid?  Have you ever wondered?

Every day it seems we hear on the radio or read online about the facts that too much stress can (k)ill a person.  We know this is likely true, because just about every one of us knows someone (who knows someone else that knew that guy) who died from a sudden stroke or medical mystery at a pre-senior age.

I’ve read dense medical jargon until my eyes were stinging roadmaps about the effects of trauma on the psyche.  It’s something I had to learn about in the last few years, because my body is indeed affected physically by the psychological aspects.  I truly wanted to stay blissfully ignorant at first.  I didn’t want to know, and I didn’t want to face it.

So, here you go.  This is what I know.      

stress_curve

How our bodies react to stress

THE PTSD MIND-BODY CONNECTION

It all starts with a moment of fear.  Something happens..

Oh, let’s say you’re walking home alone on a dimly lit street and you sense someone may be not far behind.  Let’s say you suddenly don’t feel comfortable because you remember long ago, you were stalked.   As you argue with yourself, your strides lengthen with faster steps and then for no reason you can offer, you feel so much panic that you’re running so fast your feet can barely keep up.  You’re feeling absolutely ridiculous, yet justified, and you’re running for your life.

The panic you feel is a body response.  During that time, our brain signals adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) to be released into our bloodstream from the adrenal glands.

Those beautiful little glands snuggle right on top of the kidneys and when the brain is yelling at the body to get ready, those glands send a powerful rush to the entire system.  Our heart beats faster, our blood pressure rises with the feeling of a barometer rising in our chest and our muscles are ready for fight or flight.  Adrenal glands, put simply, are the body’s First Responders.  When we hear about people having moments of Superman strength saving another person, it’s the adrenals at work.

For the average person the adrenaline rush lasts maybe a few minutes at most.  The brain will tell the body to release the counter-agent (magnesium) into our bloodstream.    Once that happens, the show’s over folks, nothin’ to see here, move along.  The body returns to normal and resumes its usual functions.

Magnesium has made nearly front-page news in the last few years.  Not many people know what it does, or how it works or why we need it so bad.  All they know is that it’s not good when they don’t have enough of it.

Short and sweet, we literally can’t live without magnesium.   We have to have enough magnesium in our body for over 300 metabolic reactions to happen.   It also helps us keep calmly copacetic and helps us sleep.  Only 1% hangs out in your bloodstream (when a doctor checks your magnesium, he’s only able to check that 1%.)  The other 99% is in your bones, cells and organs.

The average “normal” person in a crisis will recover fairly quickly.    The body will balance itself out by telling the kidneys to draw magnesium out of the bones and wherever else it can to balance the 1% in the bloodstream back to that 1%.   As long as that bloodstream stays at 1% the body doesn’t care what organ or bone they borrowed the magnesium from.

Where things can go terribly wrong is when a person is in a crisis for a long time.  The stress hormones keep flooding our body.  At first the body can keep up.   The rush..cortisol; the calm..magnesium; the rush, the calm, etc etc etc.  But the body begins to show signs of wear and tear and it doesn’t work as well as it used to.  And it doesn’t like excess cortisol.  Still, the body’s a trooper and will fight itself for homeostasis.  The blood will stay at 1%, but the body… well, not 99% anymore.

Now add more crisis, more calm, over and over.   The adrenals are struggling to keep up with the demand, the kidneys are getting confused and tired, and your blood sugar starts to run a little high.  The body is running low on stress hormones, and running out of its places to borrow magnesium from your bones and organs, and that tightly regulated 1% is no longer balanced.

Here’s when the serious symptoms are screaming,  because of those over 300 metabolic reactions, magnesium keeps the heart beating.  Not enough magnesium means your heart will hiccup, and pause, and beat strangely.  Magnesium lets you absorb protein, calcium, and more.  Not enough magnesium means your body may eventually starve, no matter how much you eat.  Kidneys will fluctuate on reserve power.   In fact, most of the body may be running on reserve because without nutrition, there’s very little energy available to climb stairs, or run, or think.

Crrrrash.

Adrenal fatigue and chronic low magnesium are found in many trauma survivors with PTSD.  It’s a mind-body connection of disastrous proportions.  When we remember, our body experiences the trauma all over again.  And yes, if we can’t get a grip on ourselves sooner or later (sooner is best), over time we can become terribly sick.

Domestic violence survivors aren’t the only group affected.  Include high risk jobs to the list (firefighters, police officers, soldiers, etc), and anyone who is in a high risk group of being in a chronic, long-term stress situation.

So what can we do to help ourselves not get sick?

Part of the answer lies in self-care and self-awareness, and in our own methods of soothing and calming ourselves.   Some of us have less-than-healthy soothing methods (like Shirley Girly, for example.)  Humans are a little more complex, though. We develop some unhealthy habits trying to soothe ourselves.

If only we could lick ourselves all day long!  That would be such an easy fix.

 


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