Today is November the 13th. Or more specifically, Friday the 13th, of what will one day become “the infamous 2020”. It should be a day of bad juju, but instead it is the first day of the rest of my life. That sounds so damn cliche, but it truly does feel that way.
Jordan saw me writing and smiled, ‘you’re writing again?”. I told him yes, and asked him to guess what the title was. I have started so many “books” that it gets hard to keep up. His guess? “Enough is Enough”. I laughed. Good guess for sure. And actually, the title of whatever it was that I had started writing was “Over and Over is Over 2020”. I explained, “I’m letting go of writing about the past. I’m starting with this year, and I’m moving forward.”
It came out of my mouth so effortlessly, so naturally. Jordan smiled and asked me how that felt. I didn’t realize it until now, but I have really done a lot of internal work this last few months. Not bandaging up the pain, not masking it, not suppressing it. With my intensive outpatient program, and the support of my closest people, I have allowed myself to unpack my shit. I chose to stay out of work. Actually, the Doctors and Therapists chose to keep me out of work, but only because this time I was being honest. I stopped being in such a hurry to stitch myself back up enough to get back to the grind. I just stopped. I started writing. I was reading. I was losing myself in music.
In IOP, my therapist listened to me, and in talking to her, she told me, “it sounds like you have some inner child work to do. You developed coping skills that served you well as a child and you needed to have those skills to protect yourself, but you don’t need those anymore. It’s time to let go of what no longer serves you.”
Let go of what no longer serves you. It was profound for me. Childhood memories of trauma and neglect began to emerge. I dreamt about them, I wrote about them, and I talked about them. I wept during moments. When I told my therapist about the emerging memories, she asked “are you obsessing over them, or are you just working through them?” Complex PTSD and PTSD are similar, but different. My whole life, I had been experiencing symptoms of PTSD with no awareness of what it was. There was no single trauma, there was trauma after trauma after trauma and then I grew up. But I never really grew up emotionally. My mind was stuck in the response to trauma and used these coping skills as an adult.
Today, I am a different person. I feel content, happy. IOP has helped me to understand the importance of being in the here and now. The present is a pretty great place a lot of the time, but I have missed so many moments being lost in emotional storms or worrying about the past, the future, the everything.
Today, I am aware that I have control over what emotions I choose to change. I have the ability to set healthy boundaries. I can communicate without being aggressive, derogatory, or mean. I can be open and honest, and whatever happens on the other end of my honesty is not my responsibility. I have the ability to behave in a way that is true to myself even when my emotions are being contradictory. I can share myself without the fear of losing myself. I can trust. I can love.
Now, I am not saying that it is easy. It is a conscious effort. I am retraining myself, parenting myself. And I fail sometimes. I stumble through it, find myself reverting to an old way of thinking or doing or being. Sometimes I realize it after it happens and then I evaluate it. What did I do? What could I have done differently? Then there are times that I become aware of it right before or during the moment, and I have time to pause.
The Pause has been instrumental to me. The Pause is where I can choose a different path. Each time I do this, I am strengthening those muscles. The muscles of the mind. My depression has lifted, and my anxiety isn’t gone, but I can mostly recognize its source and either remedy it, or let it pass. It’s uncomfortable, but the longer I can sit with it without letting it consume me, the easier it gets. I am writing, but mostly I am writing about the present moment, and my hope for the future. The noose of the past has loosened its grip and my feet are firmly planted on the ground.
I am being methodical about my recovery. Going back to work, but with reduced hours to begin with so I don’t throw myself in and forget everything I have learned. Going back to school, but having a plan for balance. Spending more quality time with my daughter, and maximizing the present moment instead of having to do something extravagant every time I want to bond. Letting my family in, but not letting them walk all over me. And, today, committing myself to a healthy, loving, and supportive partnership with the man who has been there for me through it all. He deserves this part of me, he deserves the part of me that is healed and happy and hopeful. So I gave up half my bed again, and we’re doing this thing. I’m not looking back. Cheers to Friday the 13th.