Today, springlike, made me wish for a walk. I didn't take one. Still resting that strained tendon and hoping for healing soon. But I will run tomorrow, healed or not. I need some relief from the internal stress and tension.
I know I have become emotionally depleted when I no longer have to remind myself to set proper boundaries with people. I don't need to do that because the yearning for them has disappeared. I don't really care if we connect or not. I'm not really thinking about people I love. Mostly, I just want to read. All the time. It makes complete sense, probably. I've spent a length of time feeling stressed socially and emotionally. My environment is not such that I can find relief. And so something must shut down. And it does.
Therapist and I have discussed protocols to put in place when this happens.
1. Take some time for me. Regroup. Think of things that are calming and safe.
2. Devise ways to spend short periods of time with people I love. This can include online time, but only if that feels like a safe place.
3. Make physical contact, if possible. Think of appropriate ways to share proximity without it causing panic.
4. Talk about what is happening.
5. Don't make any big decisions during this time, especially in regards to relationships.
6. Do something joyful.
Okay. The last one is mine. I just decided to add it now. I don't know why. Probably because much of my life right now feels joyless.
I bought irises last week. That helped.
I feel...old and used up.
I can hear all the people who have walked with me for the past decade saying:
1. It won't last.
2. You'll be okay.
3. Many people are feeling something like this right now.
4. Given your circumstances, everything you're feeling is reasonable.
And they're right. All of that is correct. And unhelpful.
Almost 10 years ago, I went to lunch with the man who raped me as a child. And Tolkien Boy came along. But before we went to the restaurant, Tolkien Boy was with me in my hotel room. I said, "I'm scared." I was looking out the window. I felt like such a coward for admitting to being afraid. Tolkien Boy didn't tell me not to be afraid, nor did he tell me I was a coward. He just opened his arms to hug me. He was sitting on the bed. My brain went through a million thoughts in that moment, but chief was that he was willing to touch me, the raped person.
And so I lost every scrap of dignity I had, threw myself at him, just in case he regained sanity and changed his mind, and we had what is probably one of the most awkward, uncomfortable hugs ever. Not because of the circumstances, but because I landed sideways, oddly positioned, and not in the proper hugging position. But I didn't let go. Just in case he remembered I was the raped person and pushed me away. Which he didn't do, but he did suggest repositioning after a few moments.
I'm remembering this because I don't know how to hold onto people anymore. Physically, I find myself timing hugs again. 15 seconds is too long. But I don't think of myself as untouchable anymore. I just think, maybe, more than a 15-second hug with me might be unpleasant. I haven't delved into that, really. I tried to on Friday last week, but my head started to hurt. Then AtP started talking to me online. So I said, "I live within three miles of your house. Would it be okay if I stopped by for a 10-second hug? You can time me." And he said yes.
So Darrin and I went. And I was careful not to hug for longer than 10 seconds. But AtP's three-year-old let me hold and cuddle him longer. Tolkien Boy's dogs let me touch and hold them longer, too. Children and animals...
I'm skirting the issue. Probably on purpose.
1. It won't last. Of course it won't. I know that. But it will last for awhile, and while it's here, will you please just tell me you love me even when I'm emotionally numb?
2. You'll be okay. Of course I will. I always am. But okay is not really that great of a state of being. It actually sort of sucks. It's when you're not wanting to die, but you're watching everyone around you laughing at a joke you don't understand, or you're eating food that tastes like sawdust, or you feel like there's a glass wall between you and all of life. So in the moment when I'm okay, will you remind me that I'm actually not okay, I'm amazing? Tell me you love my smile, my sense of humor, and that I'm fun to be with? Remind me that there are times when I make your life better?
3. Many people are feeling something like this right now. They are. It hurts my heart that so many people ache or are angry or feel afraid or desperate. And I'm right there with them. Help me remember that we're in this together? Because there is a lot of feeling alone right now, and also the belief that, in the end, everyone will do whatever is best for them, personally, and no one will care about anyone else. That's not who we are. That's not what makes us better. We need to stay connected and lift each other. Alone, we have no chance. Even if we move out of the current situation, there will be another. We need each other. And this is coming from the person who needs no one. So I'm reminding you of this. The moments when we all feel this way are the ones when we need one another the most.
4. Given your circumstances, everything you're feeling is reasonable. It is. But those words feel both dismissive and unhelpful. They feel dismissive because my brain does not interpret them as, "I'm saying this because I want you to have the freedom to feel whatever you're feeling," which is probably the intent, but rather, "Yeah, you've been through some stuff, but you really complain about it a lot. So it's understandable. Now can we talk about the weather?" They feel unhelpful because they offer me no hint about how you feel about how I feel. I can't differentiate between trying to be empathetic and being judgmental when those words are spoken. Also, it feels like those words are said because there's nothing else to say. "You feel this way. It's understandable. Sucks to be you." So when you say those words, will you also please remind me that you're here for me? For the duration? For as long as it takes for me to become a real person again? Please?
For now, though, I'm reminding myself that when I was being a person who was raped, there were people who were brave enough to hold me tightly and reassure me that touching me was not harming them. I'm reminding myself that, ten years later, many of those people are still part of my life, and a few have become essential to it. I'm reminding myself that probably none of the things I've asked for will happen, and that the four logical points made most often by people who care about me, really are true, regardless of how I feel about them.
On a completely unrelated note: This week I will be applying for jobs. Wish me luck.