As I was walking down stairs, my arms full with a load for the wash, greeting Grandpa who was bringing a barrow load of paraphernalia to put in my, now their, office and waving at the removal men swarming around my / now their yard… a thought or a little voice spoke up in my head.
‘What if this is all a grand illusion, a big master plan to distract me from what is really going on? Maybe all these words, these grand actions and exciting plans are to throw me off the scent?’
I discussed this thought with my therapist this morning, as the thought brought on that clutch of my heart, the sinking of my stomach and for the imagination of my mind to work in overdrive. I have a good imagination, but a heart that could never have dreamt up what really was going on. So my imagination plays out the worst possible scenarios.
She has learnt that it helps me to draw it all out on paper and explain what is going on with my head, my heart, my emotions. When I can see it drawn out, when I find myself in an anxious state, I can recognize where I am and then accept it and move on and use the right tools to break the state and the cycle.
It all starts with a trigger. Todays’ trigger, we work out, is ‘the move’.
This trigger then leads to my feeling of powerlessness, lack of control and uncertainty over so many moving parts and juggling balls in the air; the uncertainty around the Big Man still lingering because of my heightened state of alert and mistrust; the uncertainty around how the boys are feeling about the move, or if there is something else going on; the uncertainty of our move to our dream home and whether it is all ‘real’; the uncertainty of how it will be living with my in-laws and how long that will be for….
And then of course, there is the uncertainty of what I really want? I love our life, love our family and love us together as part of all that. But I totally frightened myself yesterday after some trigger or other, and a little voice asked me, ‘ … but if there were no boys, no family, would you be doing this?….’ My answer was I am 98% sure this is what I would do, what I want now, my gut instinct says so. But the other voice said – ‘same here and we went with your odds and look what happened!’.
All of this uncertainty puts me on heightened alert. Why? Because I want to keep us all safe. I want to save us all from going through all this pain, anquish, upset again.
Part of me, the personally developed side of me, well-read side of me argues – but just let it go! This is an adventure. And if anything is going on, then I will find out exactly how I did last time.. .by not looking, and the Universe providing me with the information in unexpected and innocent moments.
But I am not there yet. And I am told, apparently, that is ok. Whether I believe that or not – the ‘driver’ in me wanting to be there already.
As much as I want to be, as much as I practice being there… I am not there yet, not fully and not all the time at any least. All this uncertainty and heightened alert causes my emotions to run riot; anxiety, fear, upset, anger, worthlessness, total crappy feelings has both an emotional and physical effect.
And my mind heads off in two directions; fight or flight.
The fight part of me says that these emotions are a sign of weakness, so I chastise myself and tell myself to get over it, stay and fight the feelings…. Only causing more anxiety, more anger, more fear and so on.
The flight part of me makes my imagination run wild, making me want to run! And running away also only causes more uncertainty, thus more anxiety, more anger, more fear and so on,
So what is the answer?
Back to self-compassion.
And how do I do that when I am in in a mental battle to decide between fight or flight? Who to listen to in my head – which 98% certain?
Breathing. Slow and soothing breathing to slow down my heart rate, reduce the andrenalin and all the other hormones racing around my body and therefore turn my historic brain off from the fight or flight mode and slow down the triggers to my amygdala brain, turning down the dial of my emotional state. Bring myself back to the moment. And just breath. And again.
So I have homework.
To re-read my blog that I wrote on Shame and Vulnerability following Brene Brown’s talks on the same. And to look at the breathing techniques on the compassionatemind website.
And above all, remind myself that it is ok to be feeling crappy.
And it is ok to admit that this is tough for me.
It is ok to admit that I am ‘swimming through treacle’; the words my therapist used but I like, because that is how it feels in my mind and heart; searching through the thick, sticky treacle to find the positive thoughts and feelings, pulling them out, loving them so much and so proud of them, despite their treacle tails of despair.