I am going to go against the grain and say money is everything, followed by health, and then time.
Yesterday was a good day for me. Ever since bailing out of school and having a nervous breakdown, learning has been nearly impossible. I suspect learning has gotten rolled up with trauma and now my mind just won’t go there. I think my mind flips out and then sends out messages of danger, which of course brings on a freak out! Are you getting all the “outs” here? Well, that is what happened yesterday. I did well at a work “clinical exam” type thing, and for 30 seconds was elated, relieved, proud of myself, and happy to have it done and done well, as my boss will also be happy. It was really a beautiful thing. I made my instructor laugh and towards the end it was almost fun.
This is Florabelle. She is coming TOWARDS ME AND THE CAMERA. She knows she is safe and I love her and she will not get into trouble. She does stuff I don’t like, and she gets time outs, and even put in a crate when I can’t take it anymore. But she is never afraid.
Some time during during this “validation” session at my job I became like Florabelle. I know and have worked along side this instructor. She tested me on my least used skills first, and let me explain how it is where I work. I do know this stuff. I think we were both like “it’s in there, relax and do it”. As we progressed I became more myself and my skills and clinical personality flowed out. She validated everything signing me off as completed.
Most people have professional, work, school, or organizational proficiencies to prove. For people with serious mental health issues these can be sources of mental drama. First of course, is all the pre-game worry of something put on me. Another damn thing I absolutely have to do. When work is already timultuous and often unreasonable, I get like, “really?”. So I’m instantly pissed off.
Then there is the looking for the email, the looking for the dates of openings/closings of the learning modules, looking for the classes to sign up, looking to see what happens if class is missed or I fail.
Then comes the doing of the modules. The IT problems encountered when they didn’t work. More emails. Repeating the modules. Getting smart and printing stuff out for “proof”. More emails.
Because I am ACOA, that’s why. Because I am always nearly a wreck, living on a shoestring budget, and mostly alone in life. There is just too much to do and I am barely equipt- or so I often think. Anyway, as I shared, I did great. After the relief, the elation, the proud and happy moments came all the other shit that goes on in my head.
First was all the “you dumb shit” stuff. The “Why did you put off studying?” “Why did you spend 3 hours getting stuff off the intranet for a co-worker who didn’t print stuff out, was working all night, and probably wouldn’t use it anyway?” “Why did you then also soak in the tub forever instead of going to bed!” (still, another post or two). “Why didn’t you get up earlier? You do this shit all the time, this is why school is so hard for you.” “This was a only a damn work clinical, what if this was school?!”
You know, the committee in our heads that beats the hell outta us?
I managed to quell all that and texted my co-worker to see if she wanted my sheets. I offered to bring them to her, which she was delighted about, so I did. I also tutored her for an hour then headed homeward. Again I felt good. I felt like I not only hit it out of the park, I taught someone else. I succeeded and I assisted someone else to succeed also.
Enter the committee, the Devil, and Complex PTSD! I managed to get to the grocery store before scrambling home to bed. How dare I succeed! How dare I be THAT good! How dare I pull it off with barely studying! How dare I complete something, check it off, and even THINK of moving on! Who do I think I am!
Fear of punishment floods me as I drive home, lock my car, and enter my apartment. I stood on the rug right inside the door; empty, dark, shaking, and very confused. My mind felt a little blown, no ability to focus, and in dire need to shut down. I was going to collapse soon, the lights were going out.
I am good at this enough now to know this is PTSD. This is the abuse still inside of me roaring around my body. It is all the horrible mixed messages I received as a kid mashing around my brain. What my body feels is the effects of the chemicals that have been rapidly releasing into my blood stream. Relief, joy, excitement, drive, and fear, all with powerful forces competing for the action energy inside of me. First came a warning, then came confusion, then came safety (which I have instituted), then exhaustion and stopping. When I could move again, (I went into freeze mode for a few minutes) I double checked that I locked my apartment door, put my refrigerated groceries away, checked my work schedule, and went to bed.
It got dark, and my ears were back.
You see, success for me is bad. Doing well, moving on, completing things, growing somehow, brought abuse. Focus could never be on me. Not for a play, not for a concert, not for a birthday, not a holiday, not an award, not college graduation, not even for having a baby. And anytime someone did have to acknowlege something great I did, it was grudgingly, with great effort, definitely with the other put out about something, and of course I’d never hear the end of it. And truthfuly, for me, it really hasn’t been all that that stops me from being successful, it is SUSTAINING success. It is the constant struggle to get somewhere with those around me determined that I cannot. Determined that they come first always, that my needs are secondary or not needed at all. That my success means less for them. That I am not deserving of the light, ease, or peace. Dysfunctional families create so many road blocks for those trying to get out that I am beginning to believe it takes half again of one’s life to clear them. As I drove home I was amazed at how strongly the fear of some kind of punishment still upended me 32 years later. I could feel it coming. I had to take a nap because doing well is as bad as not. That is seriously messed up. Do you know what that means?
That means that either way, I cannot win at life. That means that people like me will find the same thing. That means that for moments, there is no way out. That means that there will be the realization that things won’t, can’t change, that suffering will not end. For me, that explains why I collapse, fall asleep, withdraw, totally crash. I slam on the breaks and stop, there is no where to go anyway.
Enter time. Time is the third thing I guard with fierceness. I am a pain about my own time. I needed to take most of today to re-boot. To re-boot from a mini crash because I had a success. I had to relax about a ton of shit I should have done today and write. I needed to get down on digital the other side of dysfunction, not just fall out from the not doing, but the damn doing also. I needed to write that success can be as bad as failure.
Time. I believe that recovery takes time. And I don’t mean that it takes two or five years to quit this or that, I mean that to do it well, to get to the roots of patterns of behaviors, I give up time doing other things and give it to my PTSD. I give up half a day, say noon to 5pm ish, and sit on my bed with my BlackBerry and sort out why I flipped out so badly yesterday when from the outside I’m awesome and can function beautifully. On the inside, I had reasons to perish. I do not wish to perish. I wish to beat the hell out of my PTSD. I wish to cut the ties that bind me to shame, fear, and failure. I wish to turn my back on the committee. I may even stop the newish emails with my mom. I really don’t have time to care about her concerns. In truth, I am still scrambling for traction that she and my aunt and my ex always got in my way of.
No. If you enhance my time, save me time, respect my time, understand that I need a ton of time because I’m so fucked up, fine; if not, kindly fuck off, you may not have my time.
When I glanced at my schedule yesterday before my “collapse”, nap that is, I expected to work at 3pm today. I was elated to see that I had today off. God loves me, this is proof. I napped in peace, spent the rest of the evening in the tub, then slept 8 hours. I am beginning to believe that my brain requires this time to heal. I NEED a ton of time to myself. I need to free flow think, do things slowly and deliberately, and not feel rushed and deprived of taking care of myself.
Not working myself to death, not worrying about all the shoulds, pay this, pay that, buy this, fix that, do this, go there; and keeping all that time for myself to decompress, ground, re-think, be grateful, and write, really kills off deprivation behaviors, my addictions. It kills off “no way out” thinking because I can stop moving, I can address the confusion, I can allow the shut-down. This blessing of time today was a gift of life to me. It was a gift from the outside cold air, traffic misbehavior, my job’s BS, any job’s BS, other people’s demands. A gift to be broken me. A successful broken me.
I feel shattered today. I needed all of today’s time for that.