Day 128: My Heart is Soaring Despite My Wounds
I imagine if a bird is sick or wounded (so long as it's not terribly sick or wounded) it can still fly. And, what a thing it is to fly!
This metaphor describes my state of being today.
I guess healing is like this sometimes . . . maybe much of the time. I felt in the pits of despair on Tuesday. I was physically exhausted as well as emotionally spent. I had such a strong reaction to the touch desensitization from my work friend I felt like healing this fear of doctors might be impossible. I might never be able to be touched by a doctor without having a panic attack. I didn't voice that fear because I thought it was irrational. Also, these days when I hear such self-defeating thoughts in my head I consider the possibility that I'm choosing fear and making an excuse to stop healing. That's the conclusion at the other end of the thought: "I might as well stop this healing process then." Furthermore, I suppose I kept it to myself because I was embarrassed to say it out loud. Not that I should be, because here in Pandy's such things can be said and others understand, expressing support and compassion. Lastly, it was my own judgment I was mostly avoiding. If I wrote the words I would see them and then have to face them.
Well, regardless, it's a new day and I am able to admit to having those thoughts, recognize them as fear (leading up to making excuses to escape from my healing process), and face them as such. I'm OK today to achieve this self-acceptance, acceptance of my frailty and my fear.
Two things happened in the last few days to help me feel comfortable with my current state of discomfort (and I am still feeling terribly anxious): first, a friend explained a health condition that matches the symptoms I experience during my panic attacks; second, a work friend sent me a very affirming and compassionate email.
(1) myoclonic jolts, AKA: myoclonic twitches, hypnic jerks
A friend who experiences myoclonic twitches described them to me. Her experience was almost identical to what happens with my panic attacks. We had a late-night discussion about it. She answered a number of questions from me, which were quite probing. But she was incredibly kind and generous with me. For me, my body clenches up and releases with jolts. Sometimes it's just my legs. When it gets bad it's my whole trunk and my back curls up. But, I'm conscious. I can talk. I feel loopy, and can't control my body. She said this is what happens to her as well.
We went on to have a discussion about the relationship between our symptoms and our emotions. From this conversation I learned that touch is my main trigger, especially if the touch is from a doctor. When a doctor is going to touch me I am in an incredible state of fear. And, I can't help it. But, I am determined to control it, to hide it. Furthermore, touch itself is difficult for me because I was not held as a baby or as a child . . . well . . . or ever. I didn't form an attachment with my mom (I think it's called disorganized attachment, or something like that). This lead to the development of emotional deprivation. I learned about this from a website Mand re-posted, from Bellachai, in a comment the other day (http://www.conradbaars.com/edd.htm). Thank you Mand and Bellachai!
A person could exhibit symptoms of an anxiety disorder or repressive disorder when these symptoms, in fact, were not the result of repression, but rather the result of a lack of unconditional love in early life . . . A person may have been criticized, ignored, neglected, abused, or emotionally rejected by primary caregivers early in life, resulting in that individuals stunted emotional growth. Unaffirmed persons are incapable of developing into emotionally mature adults until they receive authentic affirmation from another person. Maturity is reached when there is a harmonious relationship between a persons body, mind, emotions and spiritual soul under the guidance of their reason and will.
On top of disorganized attachment and emotional deprivation, I am afraid to cry because crying meant being beaten, when I was a kid. And, there's one other element to this story: I have traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a complicated thyroid disease (which really messes with my metabolic functioning).
So, I now understand the formula for myoclonic jolts secondary to anxiety during a doctor appointment:
- disorganized attachment
- emotional deprivation
- fear of crying
- Thyroid disease
OK. This is a difficult picture. None of it is easy to heal. Some of it can't be healed, but can be mitigated (thyroid disease and TBI). But, something can be done about it. My instinct has been driving me toward it. AND, Pandy's friends have been encouraging me toward it as well!
Treatment for Emotional Deprivation: http://www.conradbaa...ion-therapy.htm (in case anyone is interested)
On Tuesday I was actively avoiding the thought that what's wrong with me can't be treated. But, it can and I'm already doing the right thing to treat it: I'm reaching out for affirmation, for unconditional love from another person. I have always thought if you didn't get this from your mom, you simply would never get it. I do get this from my children, but it's not quite the same thing. It helps, yes. It shows me unconditional love actually exists. But, I thought I would have to accept the permanent loss of ever receiving unconditional love. I thought I needed to grieve it. Now I think, instead, I need to keep opening myself to it.
I owe a debt I can never repay to my friend who has these same myoclonic symptoms and to my Pandy's friends who ever shine the light on my healing path! I'm still afraid and hesitant, but I can see the path, which makes me able to take another step.
(2) affirming, compassionate email from my work friend
Friend is the right word. She has referred to me as a friend now several times. We talked about being friends and we decided to spend some time together outside of work to that end. Still, it didn't really hit me until last night. I assumed we wouldn't really be 'real' friends, more like just friendly acquaintances, people who enjoy each others' company at the occasional work function. I assumed she was just being kind to me because she has seen me in my most shattered state. I assumed she couldn't possibly really want to be my friend because she has seen how messed up I am. She has seen me having a break down, panicked, dissociated, unable to stand or drive myself. Why would she want to be friends with someone so needy?
But, after our touch desensitization session on Monday she asked me to let her know how I was doing. I asked for her personal email address. I was surprised when she sent it to me. I emailed her a thank you message. In the message I offered her an out. If she doesn't feel safe going through this with me I would understand. I was feeling deeply afraid of what a friendship with her could mean. It could mean having someone with whom I could work through the emotional deprivation; I could learn to allow touch, learn to accept love.
I could take the biggest healing step of my life.
I couldn't imagine she would be up for this. She had indicated she was. She had been consistently clear with me about it. But, I couldn't believe it. Why would she be willing to be such a friend when no one else in my life ever has? Not my mom . . . not anyone. This really messes with my understanding of the rules of life. I thought the rule was that the only time you receive unconditional love is from your mom. If you don't get it, then too bad. Your loss. Move past it. You're an idiot if you try to find it. You'll be hurt and repeatedly violated.
When I offered her an out in that email I expected her to take it. But, instead she said:
I'm glad you are feeling better and that you feel safe. I am not worried about my safety, I know you are working through some very difficulty history. I'm also glad to hear you have T working with you. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to let your shield down and again I feel honored that you trust me to help you through this. Your trust and friendship are a gift and I too look forward to getting to know you better, under any circumstance. Sleep well my friend.
I got this last night right before bed. In fact, I didn't read it until after I got into bed. We had been emailing about a work-related topic; and we were trying to set up a meeting. I needed to know last night when the meeting would be so I could plan my day accordingly (namely get up earlier to be at work earlier). [Normally I do not check email or allow any electronic devices in my bed room.] I read this email once and closed my phone. Then, I lay there for a minute and I thought, "Is she really my friend?" I reopened it and her last two sentences broke through to my heart.
I stared at the screen and thought, "She knows how I am and she still wants to be my friend. She has seen how messed up I am and she is not running away!" I then noticed my nose was full and draining, in urgent need of tissue, and I realized I was crying. I only cried for maybe 10 seconds. But, it was natural. It was not gut wrenching. It wasn't terrifying. I didn't feel the need to run away or to SH. I blew my nose and laid back down. I fell asleep almost immediately and slept soundly. No nightmares. No waking in the night.
I understand my panic symptoms. I am making a real offline friend and I have cried.