Archives for posts with tag: the value of good self-care

The time comes when practices and tools and new skills aren’t just convenient, or a nice quality of life improvement, or appreciated growth and self-improvement; they aren’t about that, and never were. The time comes, sooner or later, almost inevitably, when practices, tools, and skills are what I am counting on to maintain not just balance, or contentment, or comfort dealing with others – they save me from myself, they put boundaries on a surreal recurring waking nightmare that is the result of my PTSD flaring up. Over time, when the time comes, they become something I can (hopefully) count on to give me a moment to change a reaction to a response, when my PTSD and my disinhibiting brain injury cross paths in a moment of stress.

The time will come…does come…when I will find myself facing me, facing a challenge – that much I know, from a lifetime of experience; “this too shall pass” applies equally to the moments of calm and joy, as it applies to the moments of panic, and terror.

These practices I write so much about, talk so much about, and frankly practice so much for many minutes of this finite mortal life are not just conveniences or cool things to do – they saved my life. This morning they proved their worth, and I proved that I am not wasting my time learning to practice the practices.

There’s not much more to say about this morning, in any specific way. I have PTSD. My symptoms are sometimes triggered by very specific domestic scenarios; one of the lasting effects of domestic violence decades ago (so don’t act violently toward people you say you love, okay?). I also have a brain injury that severely limits the ‘inhibiting’ and regulatory executive functions that most people can count on to avoid saying the wrong thing, or acting on impulse – or releasing the full visceral power of their emotional experience in the moment. This morning I found myself disadvantaged by those characteristics of my experience, and leaning heavily on new practices, new understandings of mind and practical emotional neuroscience, and the love and good-heartedness of my traveling partner, who handled things – and me – so tenderly. This morning, it was enough. (Huge win there, frankly.) The hours of study, meditation, practicing good self-care, more meditation, getting more exercise, taking better care of my physical health, and still more meditation, the hiking, the talk therapy, learning cognitive practices that improve implicit memory, more meditation still…and the miles and miles of walking, and being; every bit of it is worth the effort, the life-force spent, the time taken just to have it pay off this one time, this morning.

You know, it isn’t even about ‘proof of concept’ in any especially grown up way – it’s more like the scene in Harry Potter “Prisoner of Azkaban” when Harry realizes he can cast the Patronus charm – because he already had (nothing like time travel to get a leg up on the future, I guess…). I am hopeful I can go forward more easily able to take advantage of new practices to manage my PTSD and my TBI…because this morning, I did. Oh, wait…That’s exactly what ‘proof of concept’ actually is. LOL Go, Brain. Proof of concept…but ‘in a Harry Potter way’; I may never actually be a proper grown up. 🙂

Sometimes this can feel a very lonely journey; we are not alone. <3 Detail of "Communion" 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas w/ceramic, 2011

Sometimes this can feel a very lonely journey; we are not alone. ❤
Detail of “Communion” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic, 2011

So…it’s another day to treat myself and others well, and a good day to stay aware of how easily a comfortable seeming recovery from a bad moment can go awry without continuing to practice the practices. Today is a good day for self-compassion, and acceptance that these are called ‘invisible injuries’ for a reason. Today is a good day to trust love. Today is a good day to enjoy a better outcome, and to say ‘thank you’ – because better outcomes are rarely a solo endeavor.

This morning my pain woke me. Twice. Once around 2:00 am, and again at 5:30 am.

The first time was a classic moment; I got up sleepily, went to the kitchen and got a drink of water. It was in many respects identical to all such ‘drink of water’ moments in the wee hours. Squinting through the harshness of artificial lighting, going through the physical motions of getting a glass, filling it, drinking, and finally setting the glass on the counter rather randomly and returning to bed; it’s the same process however young or old I have been since I’ve been old enough to do it without help, and so habitual after all this time that there are likely uncountable such moments that leave no recollection at all.

The second time, I got up feeling a bit relieved that it was finally an hour at which I could take my Rx pain relief, my morning medication, but not late enough to be off on my timing. I tried to return to sleep, but this morning my pain got the better of any such desired outcome. I got up, and began the day in a distracted and disorderly fashion; I wasn’t really quite awake at all, but in too much pain to take things slowly first thing. When I realized my pain was driving haste, I stopped, sat down, and meditated for a few unmeasured minutes and started over.

I remind myself that these are all self-care practices, because they do require practice (otherwise they’d be ‘self-care thoughts’).

It’s quite a lovely morning. The fact that I hurt doesn’t really detract from that, it just made starting the day a tad challenging. Enjoying the morning solo, there was no one potentially between my pain and my coffee, or my not-quite-awake volatility and meditation. As early in the morning as it was, I put on favorite dance tracks (think The Crystal Method, Nicki Minaj, and Jesse J) and took advantage of the solo morning to dance; it sometimes really helps with my arthritis pain (which is in my spine) to move. That is certainly the case this morning, and I’m grateful to have a solo morning on a morning when I need that so much. (Not everyone wants to start their morning with Lil’ Jon at 6:00 am!)

Later today, the house will fill with family once again, gentler music of shared tastes. It’s been an excellent solo weekend; I am far more ready for a homecoming than I am for the weekend to end. I’m grateful things will happen in that order. 🙂

"Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment." Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

Today is a good day for music, dance, and joy, to embrace simple delights, and take things slow.