Self care is important with a background of trauma. But having a quick moment to fall apart is especially important at times, too. And when I say a moment, I mean a quick one. It can’t become a habit and you have to remember how to put yourself back together again.
In addition to job stress, I was triggered by a song that I used to hear in my childhood that unfortunately my cousin who molested me liked. And then it came: flashback, body memories. Caca that I thought I had successfully put away with therapy and counseling. I thought wrong. I was at a family get together that I had been begged to attend, promptly left five minutes after my arrival. It wasn’t the deejay’s fault because the song is actually a good song. Old school R&B. But I had to get away. It was my day off from work. I did not want to spend it remembering trauma.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is no joke. I had been meditating regularly, spending my Whole Paycheck in Whole Foods (because I grew up on textiles and organic food thanks to my grandparents and great grandparents), but after this event, I spent my afternoon and evening crying, sleeping, eating barbeque and chocolate cake and drinking ginger ale soda. I must say, it was delicious.
Then, some friends I haven’t talked to in a long time called out of nowhere and I talked to them about my job, my plans to move out of state so I am not triggered by people, places and situations from my childhood trauma in Chicago, and how this writing project hasn’t come together they way I would like. It was as if they could sense my distress, prompting them to call. “But Paula, we are spiritual people. We can handle anything,” I was told by a well meaning friend. It was nice to be reminded.
Earlier in the week, I saw an article in O Magazine about what to do when life is unfair written by Martha Beck. She suggested telling people the truth about what is going on. So, I took the time to tell my family my PTSD triggers because they didn’t know because I never told them. My family was utterly horrified and apologetic, but it wasn’t like there was much they could do.
Tomorrow, I am trying to recommit myself to healthy things I can control, like praying and meditating, planning to getting to next year’s One Hope gala that takes place at Navy Pier for child abuse, hand sewing and getting back on my exercise schedule. I had a list of things that made me happy specifically created for times like this, but I have to remember to read it and actually do one item.
So I focused one item I knew I could master: Nature. I went outside not wearing shoes and looked up at the stars in the summer sky. There are creations in the world that are beautiful. Life simply was always not a series of unfortunate events. I finally felt better. Sometimes falling apart is good, just as long as you remember how to put yourself back together again.