Posts Tagged ‘pacing yourself’

I’ve been kind of numb for the last couple of days and I’m not entirely sure that it’s a bad thing. I generally think numb= bad, but this isn’t entirely numb and I’m still able to be fairly present for my family. I am starting to suspect that this is a self protective “I desperately need a break” numb as opposed to an avoidant “I don’t want to have anything to do with those feelings” numb.

Like all too many survivors who are in therapy, I have a tendency to push and push and push. I can’t even begin to count the number of times Mama Bear has said, “You don’t need to work so hard all of the time. You will do better if you take a break.” Intellectually, I understand that I’m not in a life or death situation right now and I don’t need to fix everything at this moment, but parts of me inside are still in the process of learning that it is safe for me to take a break now and then.

As a result, I have been pushing non-stop since I started doing therapy again, 20 months ago, and I am just exhausted. But how do I take a break? I’m not sure how other people do it, but I am starting to suspect that this slightly numb state is a way that my mind is trying to impose a break on me. That doesn’t mean that nothing comes up; multiple times during the day I have felt something intrusive start, however I have been able to back off from whatever is intruding, ground myself, and get my insides to agree that I am better off not trying to figure out what is nibbling at the edges of my mind right now.

I have also had strong emotions start to come up over the last couple of days, but then fizzle out. I think that is largely because of a lack of emotional energy to sustain the feelings. If the battery is drained, there is no zap.

It’s probably a good time for Mama Bear to be out of town, really. I know that she would be perfectly happy to take a session or two to talk about some things in my life that are worth talking about, but don’t require nearly the amount of energy as the trauma work, but I have trouble getting myself to take a break from the trauma work. However, she isn’t here, so there was no session today- simple as that. Nothing was stirred up and I won’t be spending the next 2 or 3 days working on something in the back (or the front) or my mind. I didn’t have any choice in the matter and I’m kind of grateful that I was forced to not have a session today.

But this is ridiculous. I really need to learn how to pace myself better and not burn myself out. So I’m wondering what other people have figured out in terms of pacing and getting themselves to take breaks as they need them?

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“Slower is faster.”

I don’t know how many times I have heard Mama Bear say that and I tend to nod in agreement, and then continue in my headlong rush towards trying to heal myself.  That is, I continue until I overwhelm myself and everything has to come to a screeching halt, while I struggle to get things settled down again.  Then I start the cycle all over again.

I have asked myself, “Why do you persist in pushing so hard?”  Partly, it is because I so desperately want to have some illusion of control over the process.  I can’t control what happened in the past.  I can’t control what I remember.  I can’t control how I am going to feel about it.  I can’t control what I have to do in order to heal.  But somehow I persist in thinking that I can exercise some tiny bit of control over the process by working as hard as I can.

It seems that Mama Bear has told me at least 100 times this year that I need to take a break from dealing with abuse issues and that I so very much need to rest.  As usual, she is right.  And I know that I am doing therapy in order to fully live, so I really need to remember to remain engaged in my full life.  I can even feel how mentally and emotionally tired I get and sometimes I just want to curl up into a ball and go to sleep for a few days.  So why can’t I get myself to turn my attention away from the abuse issues and really focus on the other parts of my life?

A bit of the reason is because all too often bits and pieces intrude when I am trying to do anything that is not therapy related.  Of course, they also intrude when I am doing something therapy related and often the intrusion is more forceful, so I’m not really helping myself there.

I am also afraid that if I stop applying pressure on myself, I will stop working on these issues.  But realistically, when has that ever happened?  The times when I have the urge to quit therapy are all when I am feeling overwhelmed.

In some odd way, I think that parts of me interpret my continually working as hard as I can to be the best way that I can finally fight back and resist my abuser.  I had no choice but to be passive as a child, and the idea of being passive now frightens me.  How do I help myself understand that doing other things lets me feed my soul and helps me to be as strong as possible?  After all, that strength will allow me to be better able to “fight back” and keep myself solid, even when I am dealing with the hard issues.  And wouldn’t the sweetest revenge be for me to live a life full of love, passion for creating, and vibrancy?

In other case of distorted logic, I want to keep the abuse issues away from the things that I value the most because I fear the abuse somehow contaminating the good stuff.  But I think that thought is reflection of my attributing more power to the abuse than it really has.  It isn’t like the abuse can actually turn grooming horses into a bad thing, I just might have some bad memories come up, requiring that I practice setting the memory to the side, until later.  This means that I have to decide which is better: to actively include the things that make me happy in my life and then deal with sometimes having intrusive things happen, or to hide them away until some distant date when I am “healed” and deprive myself of the things that I value about myself.  And I am depriving myself.  I have a fiber arts studio in my house, and yet over the last nine months, I have not completed a single piece.  In fact, I have only started one.

As I sit here, imagining what all of this would be like to actually live, rather than just write about, I have realized that if I stop pushing at dealing directly with the abuse and focus more on being in the present, then I stop distracting myself from what I am feeling right here and now.  And at this moment, I am feeling such intense anger and grief that it feels hard to breathe.  I am shocked to discover this, I really didn’t realize that I was using working on the abuse issues so hard in order to distract myself from my feelings right now.

It’s no wonder that I am avoiding doing art, because when I am focused on the creative process, I am as fully in the now as I ever am.  It is like the rest of the world fades away and all that matters is the piece in front of me and the essence of me that I am adding to it.  And when I am feeling so much anger, it keeps on getting in the way of my connecting with a nature scene.  The obvious answer is to shift to a piece that expresses how I am feeling, however that idea scares me, because I know that if I do that, I will really know just how much rage I have buried inside of me.

This all brings more depth to the idea that “slower is faster,” it isn’t just that “if I push too hard, I will overwhelm myself,” but it also means that if I stop pushing so hard, that it gives me more space to really exist in the now.  And isn’t that where the healing really needs to take place?  It also means that I need to find the courage to live more fully in the now, even with these strong emotions that I would much rather hide from.

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