One tiny Hobbit against all the evil the world could muster. A sane being would have given up, but Samwise burned with a magnificent madness, a glowing obsession to surmount every obstacle, to find Frodo, destroy the Ring, and cleanse Middle Earth of its festering malignancy. He knew he would try again. Fail, perhaps. And try once more. A thousand, thousand times if need be, but he would not give up the quest.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


I wanted to give my readers more insight into how my brain works and with what i’m currently dealing. (There you go, a sentence that didn’t end in a preposition. I think it sounds weird, and prefer to end with with… Heh.) To that end, i took my phone and a notebook, and recorded audio, video, and/or jotted down everything that happened on a recent 24hr period of time.

At 5am the alarm goes off, and it’s time to get my husband fed and off to work with a lunch. As i swing my feet out onto the floor i check in with my brain. Is it quiet or busy up there, and if it’s busy, why? If there’s nothing going on that requires my immediate attention, i ground myself mentally for the day, while connecting with my system. I remind them that i am in charge, that i love them because they are me and i love me, and i reassure them that i’m going to do my very best to take good care of us today.

My husband always asks me how i slept, which provides an opportunity for me to think over the night:
Did i sleep okay?
How many times did i get up?
Did i take more meds? (I live with chronic pain, insomnia, RLS, plus other things that can rouse me and keep me up.)
Do i remember any dreams, because if i do, it’s generally wise for me to go over them, just to make sure my brain isn’t trying to bring my attention to something important.

I make the bed, get dressed, and wait for him to head in to work before i walk our dogs. I catch the basic world news headlines and the local weather, but only if i’m in a good place. If i’m tired or struggling in any way i avoid it. The hubs will inform me of anything i’d want to know. Sometimes i sit through it all – a couple hours worth. I’ve been working on handling triggers more calmly and functionally when i can. Nothing like politics and world events to set me off. If something hits too hard and i feel myself dissociating or getting more anxious than i can bear, i get up and do something else. I keep our house, so there’s always stuff that needs doing.

We live on a farm, and walking the dogs gives me 2 choices; to listen to music, or nature. There’s no rhyme or reason to the choice, however making it helps keep me mindful. Some mornings music helps muffle the chatter, some mornings i’m dragging my ass a bit and all the birdsong puts a skip in my step. There are times when a particular emotion is weighing heavily on me, and listening to the right music can help me emote. (Think “dance it out,” if you’re familiar with Grey’s Anatomy.) When i return home, the dogs are happy, and i have either earned a 20min nap, or i can cruise into my daily chores while coasting on self-esteem. I purposely give myself choices throughout the day, as it makes me check in with what’s going on in my brain. Without the gentle mental poke to do so, i can shift into a dissociative state, easily and often. It’s like sleepwalking through my day, and i’ve done it for the majority of my life. I don’t want to do it anymore.

NOTE: An interesting aside here, is that i’m having trouble tapping into my writing voice. The programming i received as a child was so intense, and being a multiple made me so good at everything they wanted from me. They wanted me malleable and obedient and above all, to keep my mouth shut about everything. They purposefully steered me away from asking questions. (I was regularly beaten for asking anything, even something as simple and innocent as, May i have a glass of milk, please?) My mother was a student of every new pop psychology craze, and became adept at prying into my thoughts to shape them to her will. I was only allowed to think what she wanted, and my survival depended on toeing her line. It wasn’t enough to do what she wanted me to do and say what she wanted me to say. I had to think what she wanted me to think – and think nothing else, besides. I had precisely zero privacy. I couldn’t even hide from her in my mind.

Except i could, and i did. I was a multiple, and unbeknownst even to me, i hid parts of myself that she would have destroyed had she been aware of their existence.

This level of sharing and this depth of introspection, go against all of her training. The parts of me that she and my other abusers actively created, are coming up against this post. I feel scattered and slow, like i’m walking in a fog and keep running into things and getting turned around… I’m having trouble finding my way. I might not be particularly cogent. Nevertheless, i will press on.

**********

Thus begins a day that’s been years in the crafting. I work a bit, and then i don’t work a bit. Sounds simple and obvious, i realise, but sometimes i just have to get there on my own. I have to put my own super unique and slightly crazy spin on it. Okay, maybe that should be slightly unique and super crazy, but let me toot my own horn, will ya? This too is designed to keep me mindful; conscious, in the face and in control.

Where i’m at mentally, emotionally, and physically determines how long i work and how long i don’t. This keeps me checking in with myself all day, ideally. Lately i’ve been doing so well i’m not watching the clock, i’m just going by how i feel. But if things are tough, i keep track. It’s incredibly helpful. If depression is heavy on me, or anxiety has me nearly immobile, i even use a timer. Sometimes 10mins of work followed by a 50min break is the best i can do. Sometimes after 1 or 2 go-’rounds, i determine even that is too much – and that has to be fine. It has to be because, in my experience, not finding a realistically based sense of peace about my capabilities can push me into a downward spiral. It can also amp up my anxiety, and that can nudge me towards a mania. And the common thread through it all, whether too down or too up, is dissociation.
As Johnny Cash once did so melodically, i walk the line.
Although, my line is rather pitchy.
Think Neil Young.*

Writing this post has taken me a few days, due to some personal issues here at home. As i’ve stated before, this blog is about me only, and i’m careful not to share things that might have a negative impact on others in my circle. However, there will be rare occasions where i deem it necessary and appropriate to include some information that involves someone else.

I have a close association with someone who has debilitating anxiety issues, depression, and struggles with anger and aggression. It makes our relationship rocky and contentious. Over the last couple of days, things have bubbled up again, causing significant strife and stress. It’s been difficult, and has amplified my own anxiety, as well as anger and frustration. Over the course of the last couple of years, i’ve been learning to set firm boundaries with this person. It’s been an opportunity for me to care for and protect myself, rather than the feign/fawn/freeze responses that have been typical for me in the past.

This morning, after my walk and before i write, i was catching up on some emails and a bit of reading, which is part of my daily routine. I read something that grabbed me immediately. While it was about someone and something else entirely, i could see how i could apply it to my current situation with the person in question. It took me from tired and anxious, to refreshed and hopeful. I have fashioned my life in such a way for just this reason, and so many others, besides. It has taken years worth of trial and error, but it is finally, FINALLY! paying off. My job was to hang in there and keep trying. I knew it would bear good fruit( …eventually, usually, mostly), but it is a damn fine thing to be enjoying how right i was to believe it.

And this too is because i practise mindfulness, and am working towards being present and accounted for as often as possible.

Even as i’m writing this, i am taking breaks to do other things, including “nothings,” that are integral to my peace of mind and continued successes. I make myself something to eat, i clean something, i exercise, i do something artistic, i connect with someone, i make a joke, i organise some clutter, i wash myself, i watch some telly, i go outside and weed the garden, i stand in the wind and sing like BeyoncĂ© (okay no, but i am feelin’ myself!), then laundry and doggy shnuggles… And so on and so forth.

And i am regularly checking in with my brain. I listen to my thoughts and reach out to my people in there: Is everybody all right? Anyone got somethin’ to say?

Somebody’s always got somethin’ to say, and i listen for a bit.
Because they are me, and i deserve to be heard, and being heard starts with ME, listening to ME, MYSELF, and I.**

Before i know it, it’s time to get supper on, and the day is nearly done. While i’m cooking i go over things, and if there’s something i didn’t accomplish that i’d wanted to, i ask myself if i can fit it in yet. If i can’t, i let it go. Maybe tomorrow. I’ll decide that in the morning, when i start all over again. The day is gonna do what it does, and people are gonna be who they are. The only thing that i can truly affect is myself: my thoughts, my actions, and my attitude. And to truly be effective, requires mindfulness on my part.

As i swing my legs into bed and settle down to welcome sleep, i rededicate myself to all of this, and i check in one last time. I touch those parts of me that are still somewhat separate, with thoughts of love and comfort, assuring them (ME) that i will be there for them (ME) to the best of my ability tomorrow, and hopefully always.
Perhaps one day i won’t need to reach out at all.

At one time or another we are all called to leave the safety of our homes, the certainty of what we know, the illusions of who we are. Not everyone will heed this call, of course. And those who do will risk losing themselves completely. But if we choose to ignore the invitation, we risk never knowing who we might have become. We risk dying without knowing what it is to live.
~ Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Painted Oxen


Love and Peace,
~H~

*For the record, i love his music. He consistently goes flat at the ends of his notes, though. When David Foster had him do a bunch of takes on his solo line on the Canadian charity single, Tears Are Not Enough, he finally said, “That’s my sound, man.”
It is, and it works. But he is pitchy AF.

**Beyoncé reference, for us fans.

IMAGE: Vitor Machado

One thought on “Integration: A Day in the Life

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