That Thing About Running
In my previous post, I wrote about running from my past and how eventually it caught it up with me anyway. Go figure, right? No one can run from their past. It is one of those truths that I am sure many us wish wasn’t a truth. Like Murphy’s Laws, it just is what it is.
This post is a continuation of that story, of sorts. I don’t know if reading about someone else’s journey is helpful. I found that it was when I was trying to sort through my own murky inner world. In my post about running, I wrote about how I eventually slowed down and then stopped so that I could breathe. Part of that is that I am letting go of old narratives. The things that have been repeating over and over in my head my entire life.
That first clear breath gave me the clarity that I had been missing. I knew I had been breathing all along (it is one of those automatic things that we do), but I hadn’t really been breathing. I had been waiting for the other shoe to drop. For something else bad to happen. Little did I know that the proverbial other shoe was me.
Have a Meltdown (almost)
After years of running, and stretching myself way too thin, and trying to make everyone else’s life amazing, I broke. It is what I refer to as my almost meltdown. All of the emotions that I kept bottled up for my whole life started to bubble forth like a volcano before it erupts. I kept the eruption in as best I could, but my husband saw what was happening and didn’t stop it, but slowed it down.
“…using all your energy to avoid certain emotions may make it difficult to manage other experiences, such as frustration and irritation, making you more likely to be “on edge” and angry.1”
I am lucky that I have a fantastic partner for a husband. It was he that looked at me and told me that I needed help. That was just before Christmas 2018. I was on edge. I had been on edge for months, probably longer than that, if I am honest with myself. All of that edginess and frustration came to a head over something. I don’t even remember what the straw that broke my back that day was.
I still remember that he told me I was going down a path that he could not (would not) follow or to be able to help me. It was hard to hear those words, but at the same time, I felt relieved. I had been waiting and probably needing to hear that from someone besides myself. I had been taking out on him all of the anger and frustration that I had bottled up within me.
I was trying so hard to be the perfect person for everyone else. And I felt like I was failing every moment of the day. Nothing I did was good enough. Not for me, and not for anyone else.
Foundation of Medication and Therapy
That reality check was what I needed to stop spiraling and take a breath. In that breath, a door opened to allow me to acknowledge that it was true. I needed help. I decided that I would go on medication if that is what I needed.
At that low point, I knew that I needed medication. I needed something to give me solid ground. The ground that I was standing on was crumbling. The infrastructure is so fragile that the smallest tremor would send the whole thing tumbling down. I needed something to shore that up while I replaced the infrastructure.
I sat down that day and started looking for a practice that would provide both a therapist and someone licensed to prescribe medications. I got lucky and found a great one on my first try. I reiterate, I got lucky. You may need to try a couple of different doctors, therapists, etc., to find the one that works best for you. Don’t give up. You will find the right team.
All of this takes time. There is a level of patience that one has to have to be able to learn about yourself. I have had spurts of doing that but nothing that really stuck with me. It’s isn’t that I am impatient. It is that I think that I haven’t done enough, that I am not good enough.
I had a bit of a breakthrough with my therapist during a session, and she said that I had done a lot of excellent work. My response? “Did I? Really? I felt like I should have done more.” I thought about what I had said, and yes, my therapist and I talked about it after I said it. Why can’t I accept that I did excellent, challenging work? I can’t.
By their actions and their words, my parents wired into my brain a long time ago that I am not good enough. Since I am not good enough, nothing that I do is good enough. I have to remind myself daily that I am good enough. And by repeating that, I can stop and realize how much work I have done. I still have a long way to go, and I may never get there, and that’s okay.
This thing we call life requires constant tweaking, learning, and growing. There are no shortcuts.
Live Presently by Accepting the Past
I thought the more distance (years) that I put between myself and that past that it couldn’t follow me. Here is the problem with that. All of those things that happened to me, they are a part of me, forever. I survived childhood abuse. I used to deny my past, and the things that I went through. And now I write about those experiences.
I used to not talk about it. In fact, talking is not my preference. I am more comfortable writing about it. Writing gives me time to form my thoughts. It used to be that if I do bring up my abuse or anything from my childhood, it is very vague. I mention it in passing. I don’t put much weight to it so that no one else will think it was a big deal or that it wasn’t that bad. I did that so I wouldn’t have to admit to myself or anyone else that it was that bad.
Acceptance does not mean that what happened to you is okay. It means that you acknowledge that it happened so you can move forward. Why would anyone want to do that? I wanted to do that so that I could be the best version of myself. I know, it sounds a bit hokie. But I know that I was holding myself back from so many things.
I am relatively confident that there are many us out there, allowing past narratives to dictate who we are and how we live our lives. It is time for me to create my own new narrative. And perhaps it is time for you too.
- Tull, Matthew, PhD. (2020, March 24). Why People With PTSD Use Emotional Avoidance to Cope. Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/ptsd-and-emotional-avoidance-2797640. Accessed October 8, 2020.