I. I posted this on Facebook on Saturday evening, but I wanted to share it here as well.
One of the hardest times of day for me in terms of the way my brain gremlins work is when I wake in the middle of the night. The voices in my head in the hour of the wolf are not kind.
Lately, though, I’ve been challenging these voices instead of letting them run rough shod all over me when I’m at my most vulnerable.
I’ve been snapping my fingers at them.
“No. That’s enough of that. That’s not true. Quiet down.”
I’m not hateful toward these voice because they are, after all, coming directly from my own shadow, but I am *calmly assertive*. I am *firm*.
Snap snap. “That is not the truth. Settle.”
It’s been working.
Disclaimer: I’ve been in therapy with a really excellent trauma informed therapist since 2013, so that’s six years of work with a pro under my belt + all the years of self-help I did previous to that. Your mileage may vary, but self-talk seems to be a huge part of my healing process.
The inner bully I contend with seems to respond very well to a loving, firm parental voice that is not unlike the voice I use with my dogs when I’m training them.
“That’s enough.” SNAP “Settle.”
And then, I get my body into the most comfortable position I can. I praise myself for it. “Atta girl.” I breathe deeply into my heart centre, and hold my whole self firmly in place like I might a puppy who is balking at my command, and I let myself drift back to sleep.
And, yes, I did just compare my inner bully to a puppy. I really don’t think that’s far off given how much wolf there is in this woman you know as Effy Wild. All of my parts are *part of me* including the ones that give me trouble.
I will love myself in all my parts, no matter how much trouble they give me.
II. Being loved in all your parts is incredibly healing. If you can get some of that, do it. While you’re waiting for that to arrive on scene, though (and I had to wait a very long time), do your level best to do your own work so that you know yourself deeply, and can therefore love yourself deeply.
When you find yourself coming up against a place where all you can access is shame, please find a safe friend, lover, therapist, or pastoral care person who can say to you “Oh, hey. No. That is not the truth. Settle.”
Thank you, my people, especially 42, for the way you do that for me on the regular.
III. I had an emotional flashback on Saturday night. Here’s what happened.
After thinking about it for THREE DAYS, I took a deep breath, and asked my love for something to do with ‘staying on script’ with me. There are little rituals that we keep that keep me grounded, and he seemed to have skipped this one night last week.
First thing he did was tell me that he was pretty sure he hadn’t skipped it, but that if he had, he was *sorry* because he knows how much these touchstones mean to me.
Second thing he did was go looking for whether or not he’d actually skipped it.
While he was off looking, I started to spiral. The brain gremlins went like this: “Fuck. I am extra. I am too much. I am TROUBLE with a capital T. Why can’t I keep my fucking mouth shut? Why do I make a big deal out of everything?”
My ability to rein myself in during an emotional flashback is extremely limited, as is my ability to actually know I’m in an emotional flashback.
And then he proved to me that what we had here was a case of Internet fuckery, because he had, indeed, done the thing. It just never came through. He didn’t throw it in my face. He didn’t say “SEE? You’re fucking WRONG.” He just gently, tenderly offered up the proof that he had not skipped the thing, because he *wouldn’t* skip the thing on purpose. He is *not that guy*.
I started to sob, and here’s where things get really worthy of a pearl clutch and a Kleenex.
When I called him out for something, I *expected to get gaslighted*, not because he’s ever gaslighted me, but because I spent my whole life in this cycle:
I get (understandably) upset by something someone does (intentionally or not) that makes me have bad feels. I muster up the courage (and it takes a lot) to bring it up. I get raged at, minimized, or lied to about said thing until I feel *completely crazy*. I end up fawning and apologizing for being ‘extra’ in order to avoid being abandoned, further abused, or worse…
So, I’m sitting there not even aware that I am *literally waiting to be gaslit* and when he said “I’m pretty sure I did the thing.” when I had apparent proof that he hadn’t, boom. Emotional flashback.
I didn’t know that was what was happening. I was just kind of confounded. Shitting on myself. What is happening here? Why is this such a big deal. I said “I was honestly fine with all this. Just wanted to make sure it didn’t happen regularly because it makes me wobbly. I don’t know what’s wrong with me…”
But he did.
“You were fine until I said I had done what you thought I hadn’t done.”
I want to know how this man got so intuitive, so empathic that he can know better what is happening inside me than I do.
Cue my thousand apologies for being extra, and this is what he said, y’all.
“I’m all good. I’m not upset. I’m here. Always.”
“I’m not leaving.”
“You have the right to question. The gremlins will run. We just have to learn how to get them to go in the direction we want. You’ve been used and abandoned your whole life. It makes you go there. UNDERSTANDABLE. From now on when the gremlins come, hold yourself real hard. That’s me holding you.”
And then he proceeded to do everything in his power to make me laugh, because that is what works for me after an emotional flashback, and he knows it.
IV. Notice that there wasn’t anything in there about how I’m too much. There was no rage. There was no gaslighting.
There was “Oh, hey. Here’s the truth. And also, I fucking love you. Settle.”
He whispers me.
V. I have emotional flashbacks quite regularly. They suck balls. I do my very best not to shame myself over them, though, because I am learning how these were fostered within me, and I am beginning to understand the way they work. This means I can name them when they’re happening, and it means I can tell the people I love OH HEY…these situations cause emotional flashbacks. You’re not to blame for the fact that I have these, but you can *prevent some of them from happening* if you stay on script with me. Kthnxbai.
VI. It feels a little like a miracle that there are people in my life who I can say “OH HEY” to, who will actually hear me, but, dudes. That is my current reality. Can we please take a moment here to acknowledge how fucking powerfully healing that is? Yes. We can. Let’s.
VII. This song because #autobiography.
VIII. I am the proud adopter of this painting by Eric Cox. I had to buy it on a payment plan because it was way out of my price range, but I had to have this because it will always stand for the moment when the scales fell from my eyes and I truly stopped grieving.
You can find Eric and his epically beautiful work here.
VIII. I have kids + grand kid over tonight for talks and foods and visits, and I declare that it shall be epically good.
IX.I bought the book, but I find audio books especially soothing, so I thought I’d share this with you. Peter Levine understands trauma better than anyone else I’ve ever come across. If you have trauma of any kind, this might be of use to you.
X. The Art Bundles For Good Sale ends today. Go get you some skills building resources, you beautiful artist, you!