Measuring growth

exposing vulnerabilities
scary stuff
really scary stuff

but in exposing my own vulnerabilities I am growing
and in growing myself I allow others to grow

So I am going to go right out there in this post and tell it…

I have been working hard over the past few years to heal
It’s been damned hard
But the growth I have experienced in the past few months has been immeasurable.
I have been flying on all cylinders
It has been an amazingly exhilarating ride

So….. recently when I experienced some health issues and I went into total meltdown over them I was like WTF?
This can’t be happening to me
I can’t do this over again
I am over all this
I’m in a such good place now

After the 3rd thing in less than 2 months I marched right on into my therapist’s rooms this week and announced that she needed to help me unfuck my head!
In retrospect I know that in itself is a sign of immense growth for me because normally I spend my sessions duckshoveling and talking about everything and anything except me!

So here goes…..
She talked me through what was happening –
I learned that it is perfectly normal for any of us to imagine the worst when hit with a medical issue.
Absolutely normal!

But anyone like me who has PTSD will go there way more severely.
When you have experienced trauma and personal loss the fragility of life makes you so much more vulnerable.
There is…
-incredible fear
-losing control
-feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet
This is something that PTSD sufferers fear greatly
Having no control over what happened to us at the time of the event/s is the cause of the triggers when we lose control in the now.
Being in control is how we feel safe
Hence OCD is often symptomatic of PTSD

These past two weeks I have had a couple of events which triggered me severely.
I visited a skin specialist because I figured that at my age and stage in life, with my skin type, and living here in New Zealand it was a wise thing to do.
However, I was unprepared for having several ‘things’ cut off of me and even more unprepared to hear that one of them was ‘of concern’.
The area of concern was on the back of my thigh.
My head immediately took me back many years when we lost a friend to melanoma – and yes his began with a spot right there!
Instant meltdown
Tears for hours as I processed
Thank God for friends who don’t mind damp shoulders

Six days later I was sitting at the computer early in the morning chatting with my daughter online when I began to feel something strange in my face.
Eilidh came in a few moments later and looked at me…
‘Your face is swollen’ she commented in a puzzled tone
That was the beginning…
The left side of my face went puffy, and hot, and numb, and the vision in my left eye went blurry, like a haze was over it….
I was feeling very weird
Nothing I could pinpoint specifically, but I was beginning to freak out.
My mind was taking me places again, places I didn’t want to go, but because of association with my father’s strokes etc, it went there real fast.
I had to go pick up Azzan and when I did he was ‘Mum go straight to the Dr. Don’t take me home, just go to the Dr’.
So I did.
I was seen by the nurse.
All vitals were fine.
I was feeling like a total drama queen.
She referred me straight through to the Dr – stating that obviously if it was serious enough for me to walk in knowing there was something wrong, it was serious enough to see the Dr.
Validation felt good.
Saw the Dr and he eventually diagnosed shingles.
That I can handle.
The strep throat that had taken me a month to recover from pre Xmas had obviously lowered my immune system enough to allow the virus to activate.
I asked him what would’ve happened if I hadn’t come in?
‘You could’ve gone blind in that eye’ he said.
More validation that I know my body and in future not to doubt myself.
But I had crashed emotionally – again.

The next day I received reassurance from my therapist that I was not going mental, I was not losing it, I was not regressing, was in fact doing a very healthy thing.
I was allowing myself to feel.

My normal PTSD response in the past has been to feel hopeless, collapsed, stuck, to have a knee jerk reaction when things hit the fan.
This is absolutely the norm to those of us stuck in the Drama triangle.
I know this.
I know it too well from far too many years of being stuck in there.
So for me now it is a NO GO ZONE.
It is Not Safe there
It is a place I Don’t Want To Go anymore

By taking ownership of my emotions
By naming my vulnerabilities
I am learning skills to live in a positive confronting way
I will not hide
I am exposing my scars
They are my tattoos of bravery
I am a Survivor!
I am a fricken badass Winner!

Talking through my needs
Helped me to see why I reacted the way I did and do…
built knowledge
built positivity
built strength
Because I have suffered sexual abuse during my childhood my trust was broken at an incredibly vulnerable time of my life by a person who I should’ve been able to trust.
Because of unreliable and inconsistent support in the past I have built barriers.
I have put up walls to protect me.
Because of the trauma of close loss and grief I am lacking the one thing I need
The one person who would hold and comfort me at times like this
That exposes my fragilities and vulnerabilities even more
It is downright scary stuff
When I am wounded my initial reaction has always been to go curl up in a corner like a wounded puppy, snapping and biting at any hands who dare to try help me

I have to learn how to let people in…
I am learning now how to let people in…
I am learning to identify my needs
What does my fragile self need in these situations?
– honest support
– acknowledgement that it is scary
– validation
– to be heard
– to be reassured
– to feel safe
I have been building a door in my wall
I get to choose to open that door
to let in the trusted few

Thank God for trusted friends I feel safe with
I have built a small strong tribe of very special people in my inner sanctum
Some of whom have been there for me this past week especially while I have been in freakout mode

Phillipa you have always been my bestest friend, I don’t know where I would be without you
You have held me during some of the hardest times of my life
We have shared so much these past 25 years – I think our shoulders are equally wet and our laughter equally joyous

Spending time in the sunshine with Eilidh over these days has been so therapeutic as she has helped to blow away my fears
Love this girl – we are therapy for each other

And this guy
This spesiale strooijonker vfriend
(Who’s gonna laugh his arse off at my puny attempt at Afrikaans 😉  )
Who listens for hours on the phone
Who can handle my tears as I soak my pillow
Who always has an objective view
Eddie my man, my best mate – you are just one super cool dude and I thank you for being a part of my life
Thank you for making me laugh
Thank you for bringing the music back to my soul

And Renata – my beautiful forthright unreservedly outspoken and delightedly honest friend…
thank you for letting my cry all over your sushi this week
thank you for your support and and your love and your laughter

I’m past caring who sees me cry these days
If you can’t share my tears then you don’t deserve my laughter

I am growing through this
And so can you….
I will never be the same
You will never be the same
Trauma changes us
True story~!

If you are a PTSD sufferer
then take my advice
Find someone safe
someone you can trust
someone who understands your fragility
someone who can empathise
someone you feel safe with

But ultimately
Allow yourself to FEEL
Allow yourself to be BRAVE

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