This week was one of those weeks when each hour creeps by slowly. Time mirrors the speed by which I realize life has once again flipped upside down and the sensation seeps into my gut. This week was a triple whamee – the judge’s decision to let Sperm Worm keep custody, the mediator acting as attorney for Mr. Worm and, finally, the Paris high court’s lawyer’s assessment that my case was not strong enough to try. This did not, however, keep high court lawyer from cashing the check for the money I had to borrow to pay him. Oh yes, this week has been the worst yet. But I’m still standing and I’m still sane, which is more than I can say for a large number of the population. Am I right?
Oh yes, this week has been the worst yet. But I’m still standing and I’m still sane, which is more than I can say for a large number of the population. Am I right?
Ironically enough, the highlight of my week was going to my friend Maggie’s house and befriending her chicken. Her chicken is one of those scrawny bare necked red chickens, but I had just watched a video about animal communicators and I wanted to make a connection. So I did. I mentally told the chicken I wanted to pet it and it stalked me from then on, acting as if it wanted to peck me. Maggie got a kick out of it and dared me to stick my hand out and get pecked. I intelligently refused. So Maggie decided that it was ridiculous I had never been pecked by a chicken (city girl) and held my hand for the chicken to peck. In the midst of my morose week, I just burst out into laughter at the irony. Yes, the ever wise Maggie decided that after the week from hell, I need to get pecked by her chicken. And she was right. I did! When that laughter broke through it reminded me how my sense of humor is always there. Even though I feel nauseous. Even though my immediate future looks like a great void of nothing. I am still allowed to let out a gut laugh because it’s still in there. I am still me. And I like me.
Through these last three years the family has been dealt a series of punches to the gut; my father’s death, my divorce, my mother’s two cancers, financial ruin, courthouse corruption, moving homes, losing custody, a horrible attorney, a horrible mediator. And the list goes on. It has been three years of trouble to catch up with the idyllic life I had lived until then. Hey, three bad years out of 36 is pretty amazing if you ask me! But this series of knockout punches has taught me a very important skill: how to bounce back quickly! It used to take me weeks to get me functional after a bad turn in life, and now it takes me an average of 2 days. I nearly have it down to an art… still tweaking bits here and there though.
So this is my personal technique for dealing with trauma that floors me:
1. Get real quiet and feel what is happening in my body and spirit and get present with the dread by staring it in the face. I breathe deeply and give the experience my full attention.
2. If there is a heaviness on my chest or a sob that needs to be let out, I try to purge it by releasing emotion as much as possible. Now this is not easy for me since I am a Zen pragmatist type person. For efficiency’s sake, I might watch a sad Youtube or movie to force the sadness out of my body. I don’t need emotional molecules swimming around to muddy my view. Out with them!
3. Once I feel lighter, I identify the fears and identify the loss. I get real about what is at stake. I find when I am courageous enough to really look at my worst thoughts and fears they diminish by 60 percent due to the next step.
4. I ask the questions: Are the things I am telling myself 100 percent true? Are these fears really happening now or are they simply predictions? What are other possible outcomes tot his challenge? And I remind myself of Byron Katie’s teachings on saving my energy for things that are real. I remind myself that the great majority of things I’ve ever worried about, never come to pass. I remind myself to deal with only this moments issues. Writing things down makes it really effective.
5. I take care of myself in baby steps. I take some Vitamin B or St. Johns Wort to stay optimistic with the added stresses coming my way. I add a big glass of apple cider to that combo (not the vinegar, the alcohol). I take a shower, moisturize, cook myself something good, whatever I can muster up to be gentle to myself. I’m like my own personal nurse, however slowly I may be moving. I take magnesium to sleep.
6. Take a step towards “better.” Maybe I need to watch my favorite show or comedian and laugh the normal back. Maybe I need to write in my journal. Maybe I need to meditate, do Tai Chi, call a friend or take a walk. Maybe I need to put on some angry music, get pissed off and kick the crap out of the air. Whatever feels better than where I’m at is where I want to go. This is where I get back up on my feet and start refilling the battery. This is where I start feeling like a normal human again. This is where I stop being helpless.
7. Get perspective from higher up on the thought chain. Sometimes when I’m weighted down with a big problem I feel so stuck and so small. When my sight starts feeling limited, I seek inspiration from people with a birds eye view of the trials and tribulations of life. Sometimes a spiritual book or blog will help me see the bigger purpose of living. Sometimes a TED talk will open my mind to new possibilities. Sometimes a motivational speaker will remind me that I am being prepared to reach bigger goals. I just need inspiration and a connection to that which is larger than my current problem.
8. I need to remember that NOTHING can take away what’s REAL. I am not my body, my finances, my job and motherhood titles, my court records. My essence, my ability to love, and the peace that always exists behind this traveling circus of life are what is real. I remind myself to trust the journey as it hadn’t let me down yet. I remind myself that change is inevitable and that nothing is permanent. I must choose love no matter what fearful illusions may flash across my mind. I must choose to focus on the reality that nothing can ever take that love away from me and my children see that. I know they do. I never did thank Maggie. She’s one of just a handful of people that can make me smile in any situation. We laugh in the face of life, knowing that it will change and pass by. But we will remain ever sane, ever us.
I never did thank Maggie. She’s one of just a handful of people that can make me smile in any situation. We laugh in the face of life, knowing that it will change and pass by. But we will remain ever sane, ever us.