This is day five of the Artfully Wild Blogalong. You can find out more here.
I. Most people have no idea that I am a total shit show at least 75% of the time. The shit show is mostly internal, though, and the only time anyone ever *really* sees it is when it is especially ‘out of control’. Then it can leak out around my very carefully maintained edges.
By edges I mean the “no one can know what’s happening in here, I’ve got this, I’ve got me” style boundaries that a history of abuse has fostered in me. By ‘out of control’ I mean I am full of rage, or full of grief, or both at the same time.
Usually, they come as a team, and bowl me the fuck over, but just as usually, you either won’t hear about it, or you will hear about only after I’ve mined it for its wisdom and dressed it up for you.
Most days, I deal with this by acknowledging that, yes, today is more thorn than rose. Then, I wander off to fling paint, scribble words, deep breathe, ask for reassurance, blanket fort with the puppies, let someone feed me, howl with my head in a loved ones lap, etc.
Some days there’s nothing for it but the hour long shower cry.
II. To give you some sense of what I deal with almost daily, I have moments in which I don’t just pay attention. I keep *vigil*. I don’t just worry. I *obsess*. I don’t just feel a little sad sometimes. I feel like the only option is self-annihilation. I don’t just feel anxious. I feel like *I’m going to die any minute now*. I’m not just insecure, I am *terrified of making you angry, offending you, being misunderstood, or anything else that might result in your rejecting me, hitting me, or abandoning me*. I am not just ‘achy’. I have pain in my shoulders, low back, back of my skull, and hips, that if touched or merely ‘tended to’ with my own attention can unleash flashbacks – horrific memories complete with scent, sound, and emotional charge – that bring on the rage or the sobs, or both.
I am not just ‘overly sensitive’. I am my one last fried nerve, unsheathed, and pointed right at your eyeball.
I’m also clear-eyed, and also, relieved, and also, aware that this is what healing trauma actually fucking looks like, and also, high functioning, and also truly, deeply, actually okay.
III. I know I present as ‘fine’ most of the time. That is *intentional*. That is a survival mechanism I have well in hand. If I present as ‘fine’, people will not be unexpectedly kind, which these days, makes me cry, or intentionally cruel, just to watch me panic.
Still, this dance of the veils must happen, because while empathy in all its forms *slays me right now*, and while putting myself out there in this particular configuration (you know, the one people can point at as though I am more train wreck than human), is *terrifying*, I need the release that writing brings, and I deeply, truly need the empathy.
I’m ignoring the rubberneckers. Fuck them. As for the empathy, well, I’m trying to get it (because it really is necessary) in small, controlled doses.
In truth, I am in a healing crisis, and I am very not good at letting anyone see me in this state. To you, I might look ‘on edge’ or seem ‘irritable’ or ‘emotional’.
What’s happening behind the veil is, well, more than that.
I’m like that secret drunk that might slur the occasional word but otherwise functions and walks upright after drinking a 40.
If you’re seeing ‘on edge’, I’m likely seething. If you’re seeing ‘weepy’, I am likely a tsunami of grief. I know this isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to me, either, because if I could just let it all go, let it leave my body like it ought to, I would heal so much faster, but this is a thing I keep a tight lid on unless I feel *completely 100% safe* and the truth is, there are very few spaces where that is true.
Mostly, I just tell people I’m ok, or I’ve got this, or that we’re not talking about me today. This is what works for me right now. That will probably shift as I grow to trust that it’s actually *ok to not be okay*, but for now, this is how I deal.
IV. Try not to think of it as deceitful, though, please. Think of it as boundaries, as self-protective, and necessary while I feel my way into being a little less terrified of being seen in this (or any other ‘less than ok’) state.
V. All that being said, I really am mostly okay. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I am in good hands. I am getting better about reaching out when I need to. I am riding this. It will pass. I just wanted you to know so that if I’m having one of those ‘shit’s slopping over the edges’ days, and you notice, you’ll know why, and maybe you can gently say “Oh hey, you know. It’s okay to not be okay.”
And maybe some day I’ll believe you.
VI. Meanwhile, though, at this moment, the day is more rose than thorn. I wanted you to know that, too.
And because VI is a really lovely number, that is all I’ve got for now.