Live Like It’s 9/12.

I can’t love this meme enough. ❤️

On 9/11 We all shared the horror of watching the towers fall. We held our breaths, collectively, as the next hours unfolded. We all cried as the names came rolling in. We all breathed sighs of relief as we found loved ones that were still safe. We all held our loved ones as tight as we could that night.

But those of you who were not in the immediate areas hardest hit may not have seen/felt the full magnitude of the days that followed.

As the ashes and tears mixed, a solidarity rose. A solidarity that I had never before (or since) experienced. Even as we continued to hold our breath in fear…as buildings continued to fall…as loved ones were still missing…as lives were shattered…our broken hearts were one. First responders from all over flooding to Ground Zero to help dig through the rubble and save those they could. Friends and neighbors pulling together in support. I took my dad’s van and two friends and drove to every business in my town to get donations of items needed at Ground Zero. No business turned me away. None.

There was no greed. There was no selfishness. There was no racism. There was no hatred. No questions of sexuality or religion. No one asked who you voted for before offering all the love they could give.

It was a horrible time. I will never forget not knowing where my father was, or if he was alive, for a solid 24 hours. I was lucky and didn’t lose anyone personally. My friends, neighbors and town were not as lucky.

But it was also a time of love and unity that I think we desperately need to remember these days. Instead of the constant fighting and shunning of yesterday…and too many yesterdays before that…let’s try living like it’s 9/12/01.

With Love, Unity, and Solidarity.

The Good

This blog brought to you by my absolute hatred of Jim Carrey. Weird, huh? There’s a point.

So, I got to the gym this morning knowing that all I can really do today is walk on the treadmill. I accidentally ran 18.2 miles yesterday (#whoopsie) so anything else would have been dumb.

ANYWAYS, I got to the gym…went up to the cardio cinema…and…lo and behold…fucking Bruce Almighty. I DESPISE JIM CARREY. I started to be a little cranky about it as I walked.

And then…a light from heaven…Morgan Freeman.

I love Morgan Freeman with the same ferocity that I hate Jim Carrey.

I got excited. And then he went away for a bit.

I still was happy. I knew he’d be back.

Which got me thinking.

Lately I’ve been doing this thing where, when I start to spiral about the things that hurt…I stop myself and remember the good things in my life. And I stop the spiral.

I start thinking about how stressed I am at work. I focus on how lucky I am that I actually love what I do and am supported at work by my boss. A lot of people have neither.

I start thinking about people that have left. I focus on how loved and supported I am by the ones who stay.

I start thinking about the things my health issues stop me from doing. I focus on the things I’m doing that they said I’d never do again.

It’s a fairly constant refocus. Let’s be real. If we allow it, the bad parts of our days do outnumber the moments that feel like a blessing. That’s just life. Adulting, as you will.

But those blessings…even if the moments are fewer…they DO outweigh the bad times. Quality over quantity. Every time.

So, thanks, Morgan. For the Godly Narrator Voice Reminder that today is going to be great because I’m going to focus on the moments that make the bad worthwhile.

Now, excuse me…Morgan Freeman is coming back on now.

The Willow

I will never forget the day that someone looked at me…as I was playing with my camera…and said, “You know…they say you can really tell what someone loves in life by what they take pictures of. Some people take a lot of pictures of people. And then there’s you…and trees.” 😆 Touche. I deserved that. Lol

I’ve always had a love affair with trees. <insert loving wood joke here> Trees are a phenomenal part of nature. They offer us shade…they offer us shelter…they offer us warmth…and they are so resilient. Take a walk through the forest and you can see a million ways that trees survive and thrive, even as they protect those living creatures beneath them and in them.

But the first tree I loved…the first tree I considered mine…was a weeping willow in the front yard when I was a little girl. I loved to hide under this tree, with one of my beloved books. I felt safe. Even as this tree “weeped” around me, it protected me. And it stayed…as so few things do…it survived storms that other trees could never survive, as it bent with the storm and survived…rather than futilely resisting and finally snapping. This soft…malleable…freely weeping tree…couldn’t be taken down…while the trees around it…the trees that seemed so strong…were more easily snapped in two.

I’ve been thinking about that tree today, as I pondered another situation.

I told my boyfriend this morning. I remember…all the way back to childhood…these days where I would wake up…hurt by whatever situation at the time…and I would think. “Today. Starting today, I don’t want to be the nice girl anymore. Mean people get so much further. I’m going to start being like them. Today is the day.” I was resolute…I set out…I was going to lose my “softness” that people took advantage of. Never again would I smile…and be hurt. And then….an hour later I’d realize I didn’t even make it off the bus without smiling at someone and finding a way to make someone laugh. I didn’t even make it out of class before I wanted to hug a friend. I just never had it in me.

No matter what life has thrown at me, I stayed soft. No matter how many reasons to give up on people I was given, I still loved. No matter how many times I decided I’d never trust again, I saw the best.

I’ve been called malleable…too nice…I’ve been considered easy to manipulate…too easily forgiving…too slow to walk away…I’ve been called it all.

And they’re not wrong. I will never be hard like an oak. I will never stand tall like a pine in the forest.

I am a willow.

Like the willow…my emotions overflow from my bendable branches.

Like the willow, I envelope those in my perimeter.

Like the willow, I give you a place to lay your worries and seek refuge.

And like the willow…I may be seen as weak, but it is my very nature of staying soft that gives me a strength to endure.

Respect…The Missing Ingredient

I rarely use my blog to brag on my boyfriend but something happened this weekend, that honestly was SO fundamentally different from what I’ve experienced in life, that it has stayed in my mind since then. To him…it was probably nothing. It’s just who he is. To me…it was…what I’ve always looked for without even knowing it.

What was it? It was respect. TRUE respect.

I’ve talked about my PTSD here before. I don’t talk about it to seek attention…I talk about it because…honestly…talking about it takes away some of its power. Talking about it keeps it from being a shame that lives in my head. Talking about it…I hope…helps keep it from being a shame that lives in others’ heads.

Anyway, Saturday morning I woke up in tears. The nightmares had been prevalent that night and I woke up…scared. My boyfriend, sadly, is used to this. (Sadly for him, not me. I’m as used to it as anyone can be, but I always have a sense of guilt and shame when I wake up and he has to deal with it.) As he always does in these moments, he held me and reminded me that I was safe. He didn’t judge. He didn’t condescend. He didn’t act like I was being ridiculous for the fear that I couldn’t control. He just held me…and comforted me.

Is that what I’m bragging about him for? Nah. It’s amazing, don’t get me wrong. It takes a good person to offer compassion and safety in these moments. It’s a rare quality, but not one that’s been completely devoid in my prior life.

So…after the nightmares started to calm…we got up. I had a long run to do. 10-minute warmup…12 miles run/walk… 10-minute cooldown. Which, basically, equates to 13-14 miles. My boyfriend…does not enjoy distance running. My boyfriend…DOES love me. So, he has agreed to a half marathon with me in October. He is not excited about this. He is excited about ME. Another rare trait in my world…but not completely unheard of. My boyfriend is not a morning person…at all…but he got up early with me and was ready to face this thing that he would never have chosen to do himself. That’s called sacrifice in love. Again…INCREDIBLY RARE in my world…but still not completely unheard of.

Here’s where things went…differently…than I have ever experienced.

We went to the park. You can do approximately 3-5 mile loops at this park. So, not the worst place for this kind of mileage. We set out. And…at 99% humidity that day…plus his severe allergies…he forlornly looked at me and said he just did not feel up to THAT mileage on that day. BUT, he wanted to wait in the car while I ran my miles. He had his phone…he was perfectly content. I told him he didn’t have to do that and that I could just run home (we were already about 3 miles in and we were about 8 miles from my house).

Dude. Ex-Cop-Boyfriend-Instinct kicks in. NO. All the no. EVERY LITTLE BIT OF THE NO. He was staying. He loves me and worries for me. I both accept and appreciate this.

I LOVE this about him.

And…on any other day…I would have said ok. At first, I DID say ok.

But…as we were walking towards the car…I started to spiral. The nightmares were still too vivid…the fear…the terror of those who could hurt me being able to find me…the EASE of them finding me as I ran in literal circles…a prey saying, “Please! Come get me! I’m making it easy for you!” I walked in silence…the fear taking over…I couldn’t control it.

In every. other. relationship that I’ve ever been in…that would have been when I either said, “You know what? Let’s just go home.” or I would have done as asked and let him wait in the car while I ran my loops…never admitting what was happening inside of me.

With Aaron? I don’t have to do that…and a voice in my head KNEW I didn’t have to do that.

Why?

Because with Aaron…for the first time in my life…I know that his love, compassion, and care for me also comes with the one missing ingredient that I’d never had before…Respect. He wants to care for me. He wants to take care of me. He also respects that I can take care of myself and that I know what is best for me.

So, I told him. “I need to be really honest with you. I love you for wanting me to finish my run. I love you for wanting to wait in the car so you’re nearby. But I need you to go home. I’m panicking at the idea of running these loops by myself…of being so easily findable…after the nightmares…I can’t do it. I hate running on the streets, but today…I need to be out in the public eye…on the streets…running in a direction and not a circle…so it’s not so easy to just know where I am. Please. I promise I will call you if I need you to pick me up, but I need to do this.”

Every person I’ve known in the past would have said, “HELL NO. I’m not leaving you!” And, you know what? It would have been out of love and care. But it would have been not respecting my wishes…my fears…or my ability to know what is best for me and to take care of myself.

But, not Aaron. Lord, I could tell he hated it. It went against every protective bone in his body to drive away from me.

But he did.

He respected me.

And then…when I got home…shaky as hell and wanting to fall over…he took me out for a giant steak. Because that’s love.

Love is amazing. Love is wonderful. Love is such an important piece of what we all want from life.

But…love with Respect?

It’s like the missing puzzle piece that I never could place my finger on until I found it.

/ooey gooey crap

*jazz hands*

Positive Ghost Pains

Life lessons…They can hurt. Actually, they usually do. And we all accept that, but….yet…we all also eventually wonder why they still hurt after the lesson has been learned. Here’s why…and why it’s a good thing.

A friend and I were talking yesterday. She was telling me about the first time she found REAL adult friendships. She had a habit (as have I) of finding the kinds of friends that made her feel…less than…or annoying. Then, one day, she found herself in this group or friends where…when she opened up or spoke, she felt heard. She felt accepted. For exactly who she was.

Me: “I’ll be honest, I have that with you. But…sometimes…I’m still afraid I’ll annoy you. Like, I KNOW I don’t, but that fear is still there.”

Her: “Oh, yeah…that part doesn’t go away once you’ve ever been told you’re annoying.”

Well, fuck.

That was my first thought. A great big giant WELL, FUCK. lol

So, today I started thinking about this.

Why…if the lesson has been learned…does it still leave lingering ghost pains?

ESPECIALLY when it’s a lesson where we didn’t do anything to hurt anyone else…we didn’t break any laws…we didn’t do anything wrong….Truly a lesson where we just were hurt. Why? HOW IS THAT FAIR????

And then I realized…GHOST PAINS ARE GOOD.

Ghost pains are our reminder.

I’ll put this is terms I think many will understand due to recent events.

Masks.  Good lord, were there some fights over masks. People yelling that they stopped the spread of the virus. People yelling that they wouldn’t stop anything. I’ll tell you all the same thing I told everyone.

I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t. I’m not a science person. It is not my strong suit and never has been. But. I know people. And the one thing I did know was this…masks were a physical reminder to keep your six feet of distance. I told people, maybe that mask didn’t keep anything in or out…but, the second they came off…out of sight, out of mind…people would forget…and they would stop keeping their distance.

The reminder was what I was POSITIVE actually did help keep people safer.

Emotional ghost pains from life lessons are the same.

Humans are fairly simple, as complicated as we like to pretend we are. We just want to be happy…and we want to be happy with the least amount of effort possible. (Sorry, but it’s true. Lol)

So…we’re living life…we’re taking the path more traveled…we get lost…we stumble and fall…we get hurt…we heal…we get up…”OOOOH! LOOKIT!!! THERE’S THE ROAD AGAIN!” We get back on it…we get lost…we stumble…

See my point?

Now…what if, when we stumble and fall and get hurt…every time we think about that path, we still feel a twinge of pain?

We find a different path.

What happens when we’re on that different path…a little less traveled…a little harder to navigate…and we see that easier path forking off…and we head that way and…

OW! OHHHHHHH…

Those ghost pains save us. They save us from trusting the wrong people too easily…they save us from falling into familiar patterns….they save us from being hurt again.

Those ghost pains are our emotional masks that remind us to keep our distance from familiar, but harmful patterns.

So, yeah…certain ghost pains won’t go away.

And, for that, I’m happy.

It’s Ok

We all have them…those days when you wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”.

I’m having one today, so this message is for me as much as it’s for you.

IT’S OK.

It’s ok to be sad.

It’s ok to be scared.

It’s ok to feel temporary.

It’s ok to feel different.

It’s ok to feel lacking.

It’s ok to feel weak.

IT’S OK.

You know why? (Besides the fact that EVERYONE feels these things sometimes and because feelings are never a bad thing to have…)

If you never feel sad…you can’t appreciate joy.

If you never feel scared…you can’t relish your own bravery.

If you never feel temporary…you won’t appreciate the love and loyalty of those who make you feel permanent.

If you never feel different…you will never experience the joy of finding a kindred spirit.

If you never feel lacking…you will never see the day where you realize how beautifully whole you really are.

If you never feel weak…you’ll never understand that moment when you get to see how very strong you’ve been.

Feel it all.

Don’t deny any of it.

Every feeling has purpose.

IT’S OK.

When We’re Silenced

Preface: This blog is a whole hodgepodge of thoughts regarding faith, our gifts, my voice, etc. Sorry if its erratic.

I have been asked many, many times how my faith has never wavered no matter what life threw my way. I have been asked how I can possibly believe SO STRONGLY that there is a kind and loving God when I have seen so much pain. My response?

How can anyone want to live in a world where they believe these things happen by chance?

How can anyone survive in a world where they believe there is no reason?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more…

Everything that has happened in my life has happened for a reason.

And…usually…that reason is so I can help someone else.

My gift from God is my voice and my experiences.

Is it a gift to me? Sometimes. Sometimes definitely not.

Is it a gift to those around me? Sometimes. Sometimes definitely not. Lol

If you think my voice doesn’t annoy me as much as it annoys you sometimes….WRONG. 😆

But I do truly believe that it is my gift.

To share with those around me that they’re not alone.

So…what happens when people try to silence my voice?

They take away my gift.

They (attempt to) take away my reason to believe.

They take away my one reason to explain the things that happen in this world.

When they take enough voices…They allow the voice that tells people they are alone to fester and thrive. 

It’s an uncomfortable feeling…reading someone’s hurt…sitting in their pain. We shy away from being uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable hurts.

Two things there:

  • If the voice is not one you need, you do not need to listen. (Although, never discount that listening may be YOUR gift.)
  • Sometimes its ok to be uncomfortable. They’re called growing pains for a reason.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I struggle with this thing that I consider my gift, though.

I have led a life of being silenced. I have led a life surrounded by people who want me to doubt myself…deny my worth…and silence my truth.

It leaves a mark. It leads to periods where I try to be quiet…I try to be the Sheri that everyone wants me to be. Quiet Sheri. Surface Sheri. Sugar Coated Sheri (which sounds like an excellent cereal, BTDubs. ) I try to silence myself…but He still pushes and the words well up…words begging to be written down.

Where is all of this coming from?

I joined a church yesterday. 

As much as I have always had faith…and as much as I have always said that faith matters…I have found that organized religion is often actually the downfall of faith. So, while I have held onto my Christian faith…I will sometimes go to church to celebrate Him…but I will more often celebrate Him in nature or in daily life.

So…weirdly…or not weirdly, if you understand my reason above…I have never been an official member of a church before.

But I really love this church. It’s small, but not scary small. It’s homey. And, most importantly, from all I have seen…they preach love.

Those were my reasons for making the decision to join.

What happened after I made that decision…

I was reminded again why our voices matter and that He WANTS us to use them.

I didn’t want to join the church in front of everyone. As I mentioned, it’s a small church… and on my mother’s side of town. Going up and saying my name…without knowing EXACTLY who was in the crowd. Welp, that’s a big ol’ nope. So I asked if I could join and bypass that experience. Lol

The lead pastor took me into his office.

I knew from being there that his wife had just passed. I knew he probably wasn’t feeling like talking to this strange person. But his calling is HIS gift and he followed.

As we went through our talk, I felt led to tell him the parts of church that have always been hard for me. Namely, “Honor thy mother” and all such Christian doctrines about how it is our job to force ourselves to turn the other cheek. (Sorry. But I ran out of cheeks for her by age 18.)

As I felt led to share, so did he. He told me of his wife’s upbringing. How she’d had a mother who wasn’t a mother…and a father who couldn’t be a father. How she went through life not having an example of how to be a woman…a wife…a mother. He told me how she believed that God gave her everything she needed to do both, though. He spoke of how it’s ok to forgive but never allow back in. I found myself truly wishing I could have known his wife.

I told him that I believe my gift is my voice. That I’m here to show others they aren’t alone. I told him how I’m afraid of my own voice sometimes as it leads others…even other Christians…to be uncomfortable…to wish I’d be less real…to wish I’d be silent.

His response is what stuck with me. (Paraphrased, because I wasn’t exactly writing during the conversation. Lol)

The devil wants us to believe we’re alone. And even Christians can be swayed to speak the voice of the devil. *I* have been the voice of the devil when I said hurtful things. I’m sure of it. It doesn’t make them less Christian…it makes them human…but you can’t let the voice of Satan silence you, even when it comes from good people.

Well, hell.

So…I guess my voice is sticking around. No matter how much it annoys all of us.

And I hope your gift, whatever it may be, is never silenced either.

Fucks: The Ultimate Finite Resource

I mean…I’d vote for me…

Today’s Random Thoughts By Sheri got…REALLY random.

So. In the field of Environmental Science, there is a phenomenon called The Tragedy of the Commons. (Not a joke. Look it up. But I do have a related story about how I’m surprised I passed this course in college AND my professor’s head didn’t explode.) ANYWAY. What is The Tragedy of Commons?

The Tragedy of the Commons refers to a situation in which individuals with access to a public resource (also called a common) act in their own interest and, in doing so, ultimately deplete the resource.

For example, everyone has access to water. During a drought, we are asked to use less so that there is enough for all. But, what happens? You have those couple of neighbors who think they can still was their car…water their lawn…waterboard their enemi…..um…you get the point. They don’t do it because they disbelieve that the resource is finite…they also don’t do it believing that the water will be completely gone. They do it believing that someone else will use less so its ok that they use more. In our inherent self involvement (it’s a thing…it’s ok…embrace it…it keeps us alive), we believe that it’s ok to use what we want of these resources because we’re using what WE need. And then…the finite resource is gone.

What the hell is the point of this, Sheri??

Well, it occurred to me. How many times have you said or heard, “I’m out of fucks.”, “I have no fucks left to give.”, or any such variation?

Hell, I hear or say it multiple times a day. Why?

Because fucks are a finite resource!

And, yet…The Tragedy of the Commons…everyone seems to believe that THEY should be a recipient of your fucks.

Some should be and earn it. Others deserve nothing more than one flying fuck and then they can go. But everyone wants them. “Give a fuck about this!” “You must give a fuck about that!” “How can you not give a fuck???”

WE, AS A SOCIETY, ARE RUNNING OUT OF THIS FINITE RESOURCE.

We must stop giving too many fucks to one self involved person who sucks us dry! We must stop giving all of our fucks to every new cause that comes up!

Store your fucks! Use them only as needed!

PRESERVE AND USE SPARINGLY, THIS FINITE RESOURCE!

Before your fucks are truly gone.

Thank you for coming to my ourfucksaredepleTED Talk.

/scene

*Jazz hands*

#VoteSheri2024 #SaveTheFucks

We Grieve What We Believe

I’ve been thinking about grief today. Which wound up being ironic, as I end my day questioning what grief I have a right to. I shall explain.

I’ve had this weird little thought in my head for many years now. “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to believe.” <—-I know. Not the quote you’re used to. But it’s always felt more apropos to me on a personal level. I am not one to deceive, but…against my training and better judgment…I am almost always one to believe.

I believe in people long past them proving to me that I should not. I believe that I matter long past some people proving that I do not. (This isn’t a pity me thing…we’ve all been there.)

But…believing is what leads us to later grief. It’s TOTALLY worth it to believe in people and things…but if that thing is taken from us…it’s the fact that we believed that we had it that hurts the most.

If we have never believed we were loved, we are less likely to grieve feeling unloved. If we have never believed that we matter to someone, we don’t even consider grieving not mattering to them. To put it in the simplest terms…I think of it like I think of being rich. Y’all. I have never been rich. I have never believed that I will ever be rich. I will never grieve the fact that I am not rich. Because why would I grieve something I never expected to have? Now…let’s say an incredibly wealthy person becomes a pauper. He believed he’d always be rich. He will, rightfully, grieve that loss. Because he can’t survive without riches? Nope. But because he truly believed that he would always have those riches…and he struggles to wrap his brain around what life is supposed to look like without this thing that he truly believed would always be there. That loss of something he believed would always be in his life leaves a hole that is scary.

It’s legitimate grief.

So, yeah…belief is what tends to lead us to grief. Again, worth it. But…it DOES make belief scary. Especially when you’ve lost a lot in life. Because every time you believed…and every time you lost what you believed in…it became scarier and scarier and scarier to believe again. You started to feel like, “It’s going to hurt so much more when it’s gone…if I just don’t believe in it, it’ll be easier…”.

Hopefully, you continued to believe anyway.

But, for real…there are days when I am paralyzed by fear of believing in the future that I can’t control. There are days when just NOT believing feels so much safer.

If I don’t believe, I don’t have to grieve.

Now. That’s where my anxiety-riddled mind was earlier today. SO…WHAT DOES SHERI DO WHEN SHE’S ANXIOUS?!?!

DUMB. SHIT.

Yup. When I say dumb shit…WHY IN GOD’S NAME do I always choose my anxious days to Google my little brother, my mother or my stepfather? WHY?!?!?!?!

Because I’m an idiot. That’s why.

So, Idiot Sheri…decided today to Google her little brother to see if he’s still staying out of jail. Apparently, he’s doing well there so far. But when I spied on his FaceBook…he had a public post…asking his dad to pull through because he can’t make it without him.

My heart stopped.

My stepfather…is the most confusing pain I hold in my life. He was the first man to break my heart. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve fully trusted myself to ever really be loved by anyone since him. That man was my everything when I was little. He was my daddy. He was my protector. He was my friend. He taught me to love music. He taught me I was beautiful. He taught me I was cherished and loved. He taught me to believe in myself. He taught me that, no matter how anyone else felt about me, I was the world to him.

Until one day I wasn’t. One day…when it turned out he wasn’t my daddy…he was my abductor…when my world was ripped away from me…I still believed. I still believed that my daddy loved me even if he wasn’t my daddy. I still believed that I was worthy. And then he told me I wasn’t. He told me that my accepting my real father hurt him too badly. He told me that my allowing things to change, in any way, made him hate me. He told me that looking at me made him sick to his stomach.

This man that I had loved SO much. This man who was the basis of every positive belief I had about my world…took it all away. I wasn’t enough to still love even through the trauma that he had helped force on me. I wasn’t enough to still believe in if I couldn’t do things exactly his way.

He broke my heart. And…my belief in him…and the belief that he had taught me to have in myself…I’ve grieved those every day of my life since then.

Every now and then I would try again. I would try to mend this broken relationship…because I HAD to believe that somewhere…deep down…he really had loved me enough not to turn his back on me.

And…every time I tried…he destroyed me.

So…when I saw that post on my brother’s Facebook today…I felt like I’d been stabbed.

I started (guiltily, because I’m supposed to hate him) Googling like crazy. Did something happen? Did he pass away? Was there an obituary? Is he ok? Is he gone?

So many questions. No answers. And I have nowhere to get them.

I’ve always known that when something happens to either of them (him or my mom)…I will probably find out many years later during one of my Google searches. No one will tell me. No one will say a word. As I have not existed to them, I will not exist to anyone who knows of their passing.

And I thought I was ok with that. I thought, “I’ll never grieve them after everything they’ve done to me.” I still believe that about my mom.

And here’s where I’ve realized the difference is.

I never believed my mother loved me.

I was never able to forget the memory of the time I believed that he did.

Do I even have a right to grieve? Maybe. Maybe not. I have no idea. And, at this moment, I’m grieving thoughts and memories…not reality. For all I know he stubbed his toe and my brother is a giant drama queen.

But…tonight…the memories…the not knowing…on top of a day where I was already on that anxiety train…

I grieve. Because I believed.

Oh, Deer…

LSS: Trauma anxiety spirals are a bitch. But a random deer probably saved my day today. How? Read on

This…was not the blog I was writing earlier. But, mid-walking-blogging…a deer crossed my path. He didn’t see me and run. He didn’t let his flight instincts force him from his chosen path. He looked at me…leaned down…chewed a little grass…wandered slowly across the path…and gracefully continued on his way.

Damn. If a deer can see something that triggers his flight response and not let it take over or change his path…shouldn’t I be able to so the same?

You see…what I was writing was about the spiral I’ve been trying to escape since last night…how every path my brain tried to cross revealed another danger…how the spiral wasn’t ending.

Things have been…rough…for me and my daughter this year. I won’t go into details because she deserves SOME privacy, even if her mom is a blogger who never shuts up. But, suffice it to say that this is not the life I ever pictured for her and I’m scared for her. I’m scared for us. So, yesterday something along that topic happened. I thought I was actually handling it with much more zen than I usually do…but then I tried to sleep…and it all hit.

It started with me thinking about the sweet, loving girl she used to be…in my mind, I saw everything change in slow motion…my brain tried to wrap around it all and pinpoint WHERE things changed. What did I do wrong? What did I miss? How did I fail her? If I can just find it…I can fix it! This went on for awhile, until I was so worked up that I lost all control and…

Went downstairs and got a Xanax and an ice cream bar. Like any woman facing an emotional crisis.

And then I slept.

For many people, that would have been the end of that. Buuuuttt…welcome to trauma. My mom was in my dream. She was laughing at me, “You dumb bitch. You always fear me still taking good things from you. I never needed to. Look at you. You ruin everything you touch. Look at how you’ve broken your daughter. Look at how everyone leaves. Look at everyone else with their families and friends. Look how every person who thinks you’re lovable eventually realizes you aren’t. Just wait…Aaron thinks he’s not leaving…but you’ll make him. You’re broken. Everyone leaves. Because you’re shit.”

WELL THEN. THANKS, MA.

Obviously this was a dream. Obviously my mom wasn’t anywhere near me. I haven’t allowed her near enough to me to say that much in many years. That being said, that particular nightmare was probably way closer to what reality would be than my normal nightmares.

I woke up in a panic. I texted my ex sister-in-law (where Bella is right now) and asked her to have Bella call me when she could. She called me sleepy and annoyed (normal teenage response) and I asked her if I had missed something…if I had caused all of this…HOW IS THIS MY FAULT????? Like any teenager would respond to this, “Geez, mom. For real? No. Go away.” “No, I’m scared, Bella.” “Mom, you’re thinking in the wrong colors.” “What? What colors am I thinking in?” “The wrong ones.” “Ok…what colors are the right colors?” “The right ones. Go away. I’ll talk to you later.”

The full conversation was included so you could be as baffled as I am…but…obviously, that didn’t help. Lol

Ok…spiraling…spiraling…I’ll mindlessly scroll social media. Maybe that will derail the spiral. (Pro Tip: THIS NEVER WORKS. DON’T DO IT.) I scroll. I see memes. Yay! I see the Facebook highlight reel of people’s lives. Shit. I see people who used to be big parts of my life. So happy. And I hear my dream mother again…”See? I told you. No one needs you. Look how much better they are without you.”

Nope. Nope. Nope. Not gonna do this. I’ll go walk!!

Turn a corner…Shit! Run! That man looks like your stepfather! Shut up, brain. It’s not him. He’s not here. He can’t hurt you.

Turn another corner…Look at that older, short lady in sunglasses…dark frizzy hair…it could be your mom… NO. IT’S NOT MY MOM. SHUT UP.

Brain repeating. Everyone hates you. You’re shit. Everyone knows it. Panic. Everyone hates you. You’re shit. Everyone knows it. Panic. Everyone hates you. You’re shit. Everyone knows it. Panic. Everyone hates you. You’re shit. Everyone knows it. Panic.

Spiral.

Spiral.

Spiral.

Ok. Time to write. Yes, I’m on a trail. Yes, that’s a weird place to blog. But writing helps. Look for an appropriate blog picture….fall into rabbithole of psychology quotes and memes about CPTSD…Anxiety…Abandonment…Spirals…

THIS IS NOT HELPING.

And then…

A strange woman came up behind me trying to get my attention…I start to panic more…but she just smiles at me and points ahead. I smiled back (because that’s what we do), but I had no idea what she was pointing at.

And then…there he was.

OH, DEER…

This beautiful creature…with an evolutionary instinct to see danger and use its grace and legs to bolt. Surrounded by what his brain was taught was danger…people…(Ironically, the same thing I fear)…

…BUT HE WAS SO CALM…

His eyes didn’t dart around and size up the danger. He didn’t flee in terror or self-preservation. He looked at these “dangers” on his path…and he knew it wasn’t real danger…no matter what his instincts said…and fake dangers weren’t going to ruin his calm, his snack, or his peaceful wanderings.

It stopped me in my tracks. The panic spiral halted almost instantly.

Damn. That deer is smarter than me. I need to be more like that deer.

I am safe.

I am loved.

I am worthy.

Times are hard, but we can do this. We can face this. I didn’t break anything.

I hope.

So, I’m not panicking now. The spiral was halted. I’m still sad. I still have a bit of a panic hangover. But I’m going to keep reminding myself.

Be like the deer. Use your instict to protect yourself when necessary, but don’t let it make you flee from false dangers. Stand firm…snack…and stay graceful and on your path.

So, in short…

Oh, Deer…thank you.