"There are reasons behind every action. We may not even know why we react the way we do, but with patience and a willinness to get to the heart of the matter we can grow past those instinctual responses and eventually catch, and even stop, ourselves in the middle of one of our self-destructive patterns. It is this taking hold of our emotions that is going to stop us from perpetuating the abuse. Maybe the next time we feel the old pattern start up, we will be able to recognize those feelings before they explode and cause us to hurt ourselves..."
This is a quote from the book Body Clutter by Marla Cilley and Leanne Ely, page 200, and FlyLady (Marla) is the one writing at the time.
I've been seeing a therapist since the middle of January. I had several panic attacks in the space of three hours, and I knew that I couldn't handle it alone. So I called my pastor and talked to him, and he said that while he would certainly pray with me and for me, I needed help beyond what he could give. He gave me the number of a clinic that he knew was God-centered and that he had worked with a little in the past. I called them in one of my attacks and they said, call your doctor now. I called my doctor who talked with me and said that while he would give me some medicine for now, he would need proof that I was seeing a therapist or counselor before he would give me more or establish a routine for me.
So I've been seeing this guy, and he's helping me to recognize what can set off my moments of anxiety. Actually, he's been trying to help, and while I go through the motions and things seem better, I haven't actually gotten what he was saying until I read this paragraph. The paragraph is talking about weight specifically, and our instinct to eat when we are upset, angered, or stressed. But as I thought about it, I realized... I don't eat when I'm stressed. In fact, I tend to fast when I'm stressed. This is a self-destructive pattern that I established when I was very little. As I thought about this evening when I had been stressed, I recognized some other patterns.
Most of the time when I begin to feel anxious, my immediate response is to completely shut down. I freeze, and I yell to make someone stop whatever is overwhelming me. I will stand in the middle of the kitchen and yell at my husband, "TURN it off, PICK him up, and come STIR this for me!! I can't HANDLE it all!!" Instead of dealing with one stimulus at a time, I make someone else do it all for me while I decompress. The last few weeks, I have subconsciously noticed when I begin to feel anxious, instead of waiting for it all to bubble over. I can tell my husband, please pause the tv or turn it down while I do this." And he will do it immediately. He's very good about it actually.
And I realized tonight as I read the book, that there are certain physical cues. Mr. L has been asking me to journal and find these, and I sit here and think... I don't know that I can't handle it until I just can't handle it anymore. He asked me to journal each day, and I would sit and stare at the screen, not knowing where to begin or what to write.
But I GOT it this evening!! There are tiny little cues. My eyes will start to blur, just a little, as though my glasses have slipped down my nose. I often will push my glasses up, unconsciously. My breath will come a little shorter and a little faster. I will feel as though I couldn't blow out a candle if someone asked me to. I don't notice these things at once, if ever. My lower back will begin to hurt just a little, as though I am carrying a heavy backpack. My forehead will begin to hurt ever so slightly, as though my ponytail is too tight. Slowly my body will respond to the mental stress I am feeling in physical ways, until all of a sudden I have a blistering headache, my back is killing me, I can't see, and I can't breathe.
By ignoring these tiny signs all my life, I have created a pattern -- one that robs my brain of oxygen, robs my extremities of oxygen, increases my blood pressure and my heart rate, and if I keep it up, will eventually literally cause the death of me!!
The last two weeks, I will sense that I am beginning to be stressed only by keeping track of my stimuli. I will not let Hubbie talk to me if Baby is screaming. If I am carrying on a conversation, I don't have the TV or radio on. I ask Hubbie to pause or turn down the volume. I ask for help even when I don't think I need it. I haven't actually stopped myself in the middle, I've merely been avoiding the issue. NO wonder I couldn't journal about my thoughts and feelings!!
And tonight... I actually stopped in the middle of a thought and said, I'm blowing it out of proportion!! I don't need to stop everything at once. I was cooking spaghetti and my son was yelling about how hungry he was, and my husband was bringing in groceries, and the dog was running around, and I was trying to put things away so that my husband had a place to put more things. And all of a sudden, I realized, TOO MUCH IS GOING ON!! Rather than freezing or yelling, I simply took care of the first thought that came to me... I turned down the heat on the boiling water. Then I pulled out a chair and gave my son some cheese. I put the dog in his kennel, but didn't lock the door. And I threw away the empty bags on the counter. Then I went back to the spaghetti and did what needed done. Then I helped put things away. I told my son where the crackers were and helped him to go sit by Daddy while I finished what I needed to do. I finished our dinner before even beginning my son's. I broke it down in my mind, automatically, and made it manageable. I don't think I've ever done that before. And I don't think Ziggie even noticed what was going on in my mind!!
I'm so proud of myself for that breakthrough, and I'm excited to show this entry to my therapist tomorrow!!
In other news, I got another assignment done tonight, and I exercised hard for 25 minutes, ten minutes longer than the past three days!! I feel great!! I am so proud of myself, and I am so thankful that God has been working in my heart and my mind.
Thank you for making me strong enough to do what needs to be done. Thank you for slowly inundating me with the tools I need to not explode. Thank you for providing such a helpful husband and obedient child today. Thank you for the peace you have given me about some of my past. Thank you for helping me to take things step by step today and to get so much done.
Father, you know that I am wanting to be a better daughter. And thank you for reminding me to spend time with you. You have showed me today how much you love me, and how much mercy you have shown me. You are indeed such a great God, nothing is beyond you. I praise you for your kindness. I praise you for your supremacy. I truly want you to reign in my mind, and in my very being.
I love you, Father. Please don't let me forget it, or to take your love for granted. Thank you.