To my credit, I continued to work in therapy, digging deep into my feelings and trying to connect and connect some more. It started spilling into my "real life."
Good, right? But for me, who boxed everything up in pretty little bows and approached problems within certain, contained behaviors ("Okay I'm at work now, okay, I'm at therapy now; okay, I'm with friends now)--well, all that boxed-in, boxed-up behaviors started to fall apart after I started looking deep and trying to be more whole. In other words, life started to get REALLY messy. I couldn't just "turn off" and "turn on" anymore.
Thank God for my case manager! She's a beautifully liberal, think-outside-the-box creative person and today she encouraged me to (once again!) hurl pencils across the room. This may sound funny, but I'm telling you, folks, it WORKS! I verbalized what I was angry about and threw pencils like I was four expressing her frustration. Which is good. Because I never GOT a chance to express my frustration growing up. Like a lot of SA survivors, I was too busy trying to AVOID punishment, and not draw attention to myself.
Well, after a bit, I sat with my case manager and came to the "W" word. Work. Yep, I wanted to quit my job, thinking it would reduce stress. But I didn't want to regress. I wanted to keep moving forward and I had to still pay a lot of bills and I realized that many people have to work through incredible stress while maintaining their jobs. So I had to ask. (Cuz really, I did not KNOW.)
What do you DO when you're feeling all that tension, all that pent-up frustration, all those icky-bad-dark feelings at work while maintaining a happy smile and a good nature? It seemed so contradictory, smiling when you feel so miserable. But is you do customer service, like me, it's all part of the job. But my case manager said something very insightful.
She said, "Try to stay centered. Focus on the noise of typing, the details of a customer's appearance, the gentle music over the PA. " And then I got it.
Being centered. It's a hard thing to get when it's so general. Sure, my therapist kept telling me to be so. But put in a context of when and how to use that frame of mind, that centeredness, I finally pulled in that knowledge and understood. It means being in the now, forgetting what you have do ten minutes later, but being PRESENT and FOCUSED on that very moment. In other words, try to block out anything that doesn't help you accomplish the task at hand. Which I totally understood. It's kind of like what I used to do as a kid, except centeredness is for a productive goal and not a repressive one: getting your job done while soothing some negative feelings.
Somehow, knowing I can handle the stress, even when it spills into my everyday every day, helped me lighten my load a bit today.
So here is my plan to deal with trauma-related stress and continue working:
1) When frustrated, focus only on the moment and pay attention to visual, auditory, and sensory details rather than on negative emotions
2) When home alone, do some therapeutic anger-venting (scream in a pillow, throw pens across the room, make bread and pound out my frustration while kneading the dough. Don't ignore anger or frustration, but find a way to EXPRESS EXPRESS EXPRESS)
3) VERBALIZE how I am feeling to a friend, to someone here at Pandys, blogging, in a journal, etc.
4) Remember that emotions are OKAY, even when I don't "schedule" them.
I don't know if anyone is reading this, but I guess just writing it down is helpful anyway. Sorry for sounding so dry, but this blog is kind of my "to-do" list and I guess those kind of lists aren't the most exciting things in the world.
I hope to refer back to this blog when I need it, and I do hope someone finds it helpful in some kinds of way.
Take care. ((((Gentle hugs))))