Cottage Cheese and Chocolate Granola

Yesterday’s blog post was about my therapy session a few hours before (over the phone), which ended up being about shame.
What my therapist said, was that feeling shame was my body’s response to the need for human connection. It rocked my world and i’ve been thinking about it off and on for the last day.
I was up at 5am, getting hubby’s breakfast and lunch made, when i asked him if he’d like some cottage cheese and toast. He said Sure, that’d be nice for a change!
So, i’m dishing it up and i see there isn’t as much left as i thought. I instantly felt shame for 2 reasons. One, because he was looking forward to it, but also because of last night.
I thought good therapy and being sober would equal a decent night’s sleep. Nope.
I barely slept a wink. I’ve dealt with insomnia and sleep issues my entire life. From childhood night terrors, to being unable to reach the restorative, D-level of sleep due to fibromyalgia, to all the chronic sleep issues that can come along with Bipolar Disorder and DID.I usually have good sleep hygiene, but i’ve let it slip a little as my daily allotment of spoons has dwindled. I tried the 4-7-8 yogic breathing. I tried a body check-in, with tensing and relaxing each muscle group. Nothing worked, so finally i got up, as my frustration and anxiety were too high to sleep at that point. I would have been restless, and might disturb my husband.When i went to play a game on my notebook i noticed i was hungry. I’m dealing with a new development in the way i handle stress. For the first time in my life i don’t eat to cope, in fact, i lose my appetite. Yesterday i didn’t eat much, and last night i had a very small meal with not much protein.
So of course, i had a small dish of cottage cheese.
I didn’t know how low we were because i did it by the moonlight coming in from the window.

The shame was intense.
As i mentioned it wasn’t just that he was expecting some, it was that i had eaten it.
Let’s start with how my mother used food as both punishment and reward. I was starved so regularly that i couldn’t stop myself from sneaking food if it was available – even knowing if i got caught i’d be dressed down verbally and beaten, and probably be starved again.
How about being the fat kid in every class from grade 2 to 12? (Yes, it’s possible to be overweight AND be starved and/or poorly nourished.) I won’t go into all the messages i internalised from that experience, but every one of them was shame-based.

It felt like an onslaught.
I didn’t respond immediately. It can be a gift of being dissociative that i often get some time to realise and process before i react. Also because i’ve done a metric eff tonne of therapy.
I problem solved and included a bowl of chocolate granola (a rare treat) to make up his calorie/protein needs.

I walked into the living room, where he was having his first coffee and watching the news. As soon as i saw his face i knew exactly what i needed.
I said, “Hey, i gave you some chocolate granola too, because there wasn’t as much cottage cheese left as i thought.”

Thumbs up.
“Cool!”

I walked back into the kitchen to pack his lunch, and it was obvious i felt different.
The shame was gone.
I felt intense shame because i needed to connect with my husband and know that it was okay that there was less cottage cheese. It wasn’t a big deal, his reaction told me so. I felt my connection to him. I felt him wanting to be connected to me. Shame says, My work is done here, i’m going home!

How’s that for instant results?
<insertgrinhere>

Love and Peace,
~H~

Slow Trees and Sweet Fruit

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.
~Molière

To be committed this year to writing through the bad, means that i must write today.
Because yesterday was bad.

I’m not sleeping well. I haven’t in months, but it’s taken a steep downturn these last few weeks. I don’t think i’m getting enough restorative sleep. I sleep without dreams for the first 2 or 3hrs, but then a dream will wake me, and after that i’m awake every half hour or so for the rest of the night. If i have a nightmare, i usually have to get up and write a bit about it before i can get back to sleep. In the morning i can usually catch another hour or 2 unbroken, but it’s not enough, and i’m not sure i’m hitting D-level sleep.

I’ve struggled with sleep issues since childhood:
It started with night terrors, which eventually got so bad my mother actually sought treatment for me (unless i needed stitches, i was generally on my own). Learning lucid dreaming helped me drastically improve my sleep, which was particularly important as a child with epilepsy.
Abuse would sometimes come to visit me in my room at night, so i’ve spent a lifetime as a light sleeper.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in ’95. It’s known to those who’ve heard of it as chronic, deep muscle pain, and it sure is, but what most who don’t suffer don’t know, is that it’s also characterised by an inability to reach the restorative level of sleep that follows REM.
Although i practised good sleep hygiene in my 30s, manic bipolar episodes regularly threw me waaaay out of whack, and i began using alcohol as a way to get some sleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it seemed to be a favourite way of my system to cope, too. Imagine that, heh. I’m sure you can imagine the price i paid for it, too. The problem wasn’t so much that, for me it was the toll it took on my husband and children.

The cost is simply too high.

These last few years have consisted of learning how to live with how my brain works, and building quality of life. I settled in to checking in with my brain at the start of the day, tailoring my activities to optimise function, monitoring my inside chatter and maintaining connection with my Bits N’ Pieces, and ending with a little roundtable at the edge of my bed each night. This was designed to set me up for success in the morning, and also to quiet my mind as much as possible, in order to achieve restful sleep.

I’ve plugged away rather successfully at this for some time now, i think. I set a very small goal, and i work slowly and methodically to reach it. Once i do, i practise it until it becomes an unconscious part of my daily routine, and then i set to adding in another little thing. I tweak things a bit here and there to improve my efficiency, and i’ve needed the odd course correction, but i haven’t gone too far astray. In fact, i did so well for so long a time that i felt like i needed to set bigger goals; things like working parttime, volunteering, and more peopling – including building friendships.

You may gasp now. Heh.
You may also understand how i found myself back in therapy, tits deep, and not sleeping for shit.

Looking back at the last year, at first i thought i’d been going too fast. Now, i think that may have played a part, but it’s not the crux of it. There’s a tinge of fear too, the waiting for the other shoe to drop, but that was my childhood. Once i got away from my parents, my physical and mental well-being were no longer in serious jeopardy. After that, when a bad thing would happen it could be traced back to some genuine responsibility on my part, usually accompanied by some unconscious actions/reactions and choices i’d made due to my upbringing.
It might also be something utterly out of my control.

But that’s not this. I think this is homeostasis.
I’m establishing a baseline. It’s a minimum level of quality and safety that i must have in order to live the life of my choosing. I’ve never had this before. I’ve spent most of my life just surviving, much more time than was necessary. I’m not blaming myself – it was all i knew, and like Maya Angelou said, when i knew better, i did better. And i’ve done better. So much better, in fact, that some parts of me are resting now. I think the nightlights inside my brain that various parts of me keep on for fear, my dear, hypervigilant little soldiers, are blinking off because they can finally rest. They’re leaving their posts to go home for a rest, and i think they may sleep for a very long time.

But hey, just because going too fast wasn’t what got me here — fucked up and freaking out — that doesn’t mean that slowing down isn’t part of the solution. I think it is. When i get upset and anxious i’ve learned that dialing it back a bit can free up some much needed energy to deal with the stress. And Boy Howdy! has there been stress.
I’ll tell you about yesterday, tomorrow.

See You Then,
~H~