I have been going through a VERY interesting period of my life lately. A good phase I believe for the most part.
Let me catch up from where I was on the last post where I was embarking on a course of hypnotherapy...
It turns out that I am NOT one of the people who is capable of relaxing enough to become hypnotized no matter how hard I try. My busy busy brain manages to turn attempts to relax into yet another situation for anxiety to manifest... Let me give you an example... the therapist is saying,
"focus on your toes and let your toes relax" and my brain is saying
"NO not ankles and feet TOES ... think about relaxing your TOES"
"you are in a beautiful garden" and I tell myself
"a garden a garden... NO not a porch, not a farm... a GARDEN dammit!"
etc etc I was so self critical, and beating myself up the whole time, and I could never really relax. I was completely hopeless at it! So my therapy sessions became an opportunity to self reflect and talk over the things with which I was dealing. (that sentence is for my grammar nazi followers :) ) At first I needed to discuss the pros and cons of leaving the island and moving back to the town in NSW where I lived 15 years ago. Both of my brothers live there and it also puts me only about 5 hours drive from The Boy. Once that decision was finally made (a long story in itself) I began to use the sessions to work through the idea of re-immersing in the family dynamic. Not something I approached lightly as my rather dysfunctional family has been at odds in various configurations throughout my life. I also talked at length about dealing with someone who has been the cause of terrible trauma and anxiety in my life and who, arguably, has been the primary contributor to my having developed this bloody revolting, anxiety driven, she-devil bitch of a condition. My hypnotherapist has become my friend and confidant. She was a wonderful support to me in my last couple of weeks on the island and I'm really glad in some ways that the hypnotherapy didn't work because the alternative did!
It's interesting that when I was a child and I was exposed to an extreme level of volatility and quite frequent unexpected violence - when there was nothing I could do right and no way I could make logic when dealing with a fundamentally illogical, frequently paranoid, and highly explosive adult - I really seemed to not take it on board in my day to day life. I was frightened and anxious when in her company and yet when thinking about my life I always thought it was wonderful - I was in some kind of denial that had emerged from my mother's Pollyanna attitude and from so constantly being told how fortunate I was. So if asked, up to about the age of 40, I would always reply that I had enjoyed a charmed childhood; yes I had to deal with one crazy person but otherwise it was wonderful. While this is true it is also seriously downplaying the crazy person and completely ignoring the impact that exposure has had on my psyche. I thought I was fine!
I wasn't fine. I was anxiety driven and desperate to please people who were never pleased by anything I did or said. I was beating my head, and every other part of my body, against an immovable object. I was imbued with an almost desperate desire to please, and a caustic and destructive leaning towards self criticism. I was raised by a stoic and taught to suck it up and move forward and that's what I did!
I feel like an idiot that it has taken me so long to recognize the actual root of some of my issues. I have a version of PTSD from the volatility and violence that occurred in my childhood. I have serious issues about not being protected by the person who one would normally expect to protect a child. I'm desperately critical of myself as a failure when my intelligent, adult mind, knows, for a fact, that no success would ever have been acknowledged and that no achievement would have been enough.
The long and the short of it is that lots of my crap was caused by childhood trauma and lots of my bad relationship decisions of my adulthood have been attempts to replay those situations and have a different outcome. Unfortunately I was VERY slow to realize that logic doesn't work with histrionic crazy women! Now I need to make it very clear that none of this has to do with my brothers or my mother.
An interesting thing happened when I was packed and ready to leave the island... my brother, let's just call him The Str8 One, and I were on the phone and I was telling him that my truck was so overloaded that I was concerned I might break a spring in a pothole on the way down the coast and he said something that very nearly brought tears to my eyes... he said "Geeze I'll have to borrow the money [from our brother] to come up with the trailer and get your stuff!" I was overcome by this because for fifteen years I have had no one who would come and rescue me if I had a problem... the mere idea that someone would drive 1000 kms or more to help was mind-blowing to me! When I rolled my Jeep on the way to Fargo and The Boy and I were hanging upside down in our seat belts I just handled it; cops, tow truck, motel, insurance, car hire, etc etc. When my basement flooded I handled it; move stuff, rent pump, clean up etc etc. When an ear infection was making me throw up and possibly eating through to my brain I took myself to hospital. I have moved myself in the last 10 years, in my own vehicle, usually alone, or with The Boy, about 15 times for a total of something like 14,000 kilometres - with my possessions on my back I have traveled the same distance as from New York to Los Angeles and back three and a half times! This does not include the move from the US back to Australia - also alone. There has been precious little rescuing going on in my life for a long time! I felt so warmed by his response - so hopeful for our future.
The move away from the island is worthy of its own blog - it was a monster! A story for another time :)
This blog is about huge changes and huge self-revelations. Wonderful things are happening in my life. I feel like I'm part of a family again. My brother and sister-in-law have been incredible and it feels so warm and hopeful. I feel like I'm becoming more aware of my own influences and of just how much my physical problems have been precipitated by my anxiety and PTSD. It really is such an obvious sequence. The Professor I saw at the Pain Clinic, back when I first started this blog, prescribed a low stress life and the wearing of sensible shoes. I have the shoe part covered and now maybe I can really work on the life part!