Real, But NOT True...
I had a day yesterday where I was consumed by my own thoughts, my fears, my internal shitshow. I was a mess. Now when I am a mess, I hold it in. I share it with as few as people as possible. I do not like to spread that shit around. And the number of people I let in when I am this vulnerable it proportional to my level of fear and anxiety. The more fear and anxiety I have, the more people I will let in because I feel like it is unfair to smother just one person with all that self loathing. Yesterday was a twofer day. Just two people that I allowed into the crazy. One more than the other, but that is progress for me. I didn’t spread it far and wide searching desperately for answers from people who barely know the question.
It was hard to sit with all that anxiety. So I did what I have learned to do, compartmentalize. And it worked. The trick of compartmentalization is that it is really only effective when used on a short term basis. Very short term. Long term use makes it a prison that you can’t get out of. But short term, it is super effective.
“Ok, I am freaking the fuck out. But I have work to do, phones to answer, shit to do, and I do not have time for this right now. So I am going to take all this panic, dread, fear and pain and set it right over here in this fleshy compartment of my mind. And I will come back to it in a little while when I am better suited to deal with it...”
Yesterday it worked. And I processed it and it isn’t lingering today. I suffered under the delusion yesterday that I had control. And once I was able to step back from the ledge of myself, I could see, that in fact, I do not. I cannot make other people think or do anything. I can just live my life, doing my best to be honest, principled and forgiving myself when I fall short. And here is the kicker, I am always going to fall short because I am human. And damaged. And healing. And I have done so much fucked up shit because of the damaged parts of me, but I have also done a fair amount of fucked up shit as I was healing too. Same process, different directions.
What was really happening for me was that my emotions were real but the stories that my head spun about those emotions was not true. Real, but not true. My feelings were real and overwhelming but they were not true. They were, as we say, just feelings. And like a good weather system, they passed through.
I wish that I was the kind of person that had California weather feelings. But I am more like the Deep South in the summer, huge, heavy lightning filled torrents of anger, fear, lack of worth thunder storms that blow up my life and feel like they will never end. But they always do. The storm of my emotions passes and I am returned to a place of equanimity, it is just hard to see that and believe that is coming when I am so overpowered by all the storm soaked feeling.
Compartmentalization is a good tool, trauma response though it is, to be able to use to my advantage in the short term when the shit is real, but not true.
I can find those old fleshy body compartments that were born out of incredible pain and abject trauma, and I can use them to my advantage in the short run so long as I know that this is not something that I can kill and bury forever. I can more readily set it aside and make a commitment to myself to come back to deal with it when I am better equipped.
And I love the fact that this skill set born out of trauma, tentacles of a past that almost killed me, can now be used by me to support me, help me and grow me into a better version of myself. I am not all better. I will never be all better. I am still a sick person with a lot of baggage that is trying to get well. I am a wounded healer. That is real and also true. And I am doing my best every single day although some days, like yesterday, would not be the best example of my best.
So I begin today with a fresh new day where I can do my best to love myself, dig up the shit that I buried in those deep compartments I survived in for so long, clear them out and let some sunshine in. Because fuck, I live in beautiful sunny California where the weather, unless it is on fire, is always pretty fucking amazing. And seems to support and handle my thunderstorm past, and present, just fine.
Photo taken by Christy Mandeville, a friend from high school, who is an amazing photographer. This photo says it all for me. The compartmentalization of my inner peace and my inner storm.