This week’s journal prompt, should you choose to engage it, is “How am I feeling in my own skin?” You can use this prompt for written journaling, or let it be a jumping off for your art journal. If you’d like to share your responses to this prompt, please join me in The Wilderhood, where you will be embraced & witnessed with empathy & gentleness. Alternatively, you can join me on Patreon for a quieter, but more personal space behind my little paywall.
My skin feels too full, like I should maybe crawl out of it.
I remind myself of a hermit crab right now, as though I have grown three times too big for my shell, but there is no new one to be found, so I’m just sitting with all of this *stuff* that wants to come up, that needs me to lean into it, and I am all arms held up, hands (and pinchers) in front of my face as though life is an oncoming tsunami and I don’t wanna drown.
I know that’s heavy, but I will not apologize. Trauma recovery is hard, and I am in the thick of it, and when you’re in the thick of trauma recovery, one of the unkindest things you can do to yourself is to lie about how you’re feeling. The requirement that I do that is what got me here in the first place – all that shoving down of what was true and real. I can’t do that anymore without undoing the work that I’ve been doing, so yeah.
My insides are gnarly. Things are gnarly.
I had therapy on Thursday. There was a breakthrough, but I’m going to tell you a secret. Often, in my world, breakthroughs are painful. They may offer an initial burst of elation, but in the aftermath, in the quiet hours after when I am alone with my thoughts, things get gnarly. Abandonment depression, emotional flashbacks, the ‘skin too full to bursting’ feeling gets to be too much, and I have to grapple. No choice but to grapple. My other options aren’t options at all. Then, on Friday, I had a trauma response to a familiar trigger, and woosah.
But here’s what I want you to know. When shit got real on Friday afternoon, and I knew I was not going to be able to navigate it alone, I reached out. I reached out until someone answered, and I let them come. I let myself be tended to, let myself cry in the presence of, let myself be witnessed, held, tucked in, and kissed goodnight.
I didn’t white knuckle it. I reached out, and I felt *worthy of doing so*. Y’all don’t even know how big a deal this is in my journey.
I have come a very, very long way from the girl who, upon slipping into the deep end of a pool when she was six, refused to grab onto a nearby food for fear of *bothering the owner of said foot*. If I had not been caught by the slowly descending arm and dragged up out of the water, I *would literally have drowned* because I was too afraid to reach out…
I know how to reach out now.
My Saturday looked like this:
That’s my Stacey, me, and a couple of iced coffees, which we grabbed before heading out on a gorgeous drive through the Ontario countryside on a day that could only be described as glorious. We listened to music, took in all the fresh air and sunshine, and communed, mostly in silence.
It wasn’t everything I needed, because there’s a lot that I need that is just not possible right now, but it was *close enough*, and I felt a little less like I was going to burst open like rotten fruit once Stacey dropped me on my doorstep to spend the rest of my day in solitude and healing silence.
I took advantage of my quiet nervous system and got some work done – something that always helps me to feel a little less like I’m going to lose it and a little more like I’m in control. Some of the most self-soothing things I can do include editing video and putting together class lessons, with all that embedding, linking, and describing. It doesn’t require me to show up creatively. It just requires me to show up, and so much of it can be done on auto-pilot that it’s not unlike chanting a mantra or praying the rosary. It gets me still, and in my present, and for that I am deeply grateful.
Sunday took a swing back into gnarly, but I managed by digging into my usual box of tools for when things get gnarly. Music, art, beautiful food, blanket forts. Chats with friends. Telling the truth about where I’m at. I weighed where I was against where I wanted to be and decided I could go it solo. I breathed. I painted. I napped. I snuggled fur babes. I sent out little flares now and again to those that I love – OH HEY I’M HERE – and that was just enough to get me through.
This article appeared in my Facebook feed this morning, and it was exactly what I needed to *affirm* that what any of us with trauma actually needs is exactly what I asked for. Take me seriously. Respect my triggers. Don’t minimize what I’m experiencing. It is *fucking gnarly*, and unravelling it alone is not only not possible, it’s harmful. Self-love demands that I make demands when I’m in this state. Please come if you can. Sit with me. Do not let me spiral into the abyss alone. Do not ask me to abandon myself in this state by expecting me to plaster on a fake smile and pretend like I’m not drowning.
Today, the skin is a little less like a collection of fried nerves and jangling keys, though, and for that I’m grateful. I also got some validation from my horoscope (don’t laugh – these little godwinks matter) from Chani Nicholas. Listen to this:
“What I am working on now, in my personal and professional lives, carries with it the ability to make a long-lasting impact. Any amount of care that I can cultivate for my work goes an incredibly long way. I create spaces where kindness can thrive in the world, starting with myself. How I show myself love when in public does more than just make me feel good. Modelling how to be gentle and generous while being productive and professional impacts my entire system while shifting the industries I am a part of.” Get yours here.
I also did her workshop for this cycle, and it’s all pointing me in this direction: this modelling I’m doing right now is a part of my work in this world. It is terrifying, but it is important, and I can’t stop, won’t stop. I have faith that it will bear good fruit, and that those that need it will find it.
I’m a mess. Things are gnarly. I’m in the trenches over here. This phase of my journey is *very, very hard*, and I am not here to whitewash that or lie to you. So I tell you, with trepidation, but equally, with courage. I’m honest with you, but, look. I’m also showing up, writing, painting, practicing being a joy warrior, creating class content, cooking meals, seeing friends, keeping appointments, making bliss among ruins without bypassing or minimizing the enormity of the work I’m doing.
I think that matters.
In time, as I continue to touch the abyss, deep dive, and do the work to heal my trauma, things will be less gnarly. I will not be as full of the heavy, but in the meantime, this is where I am. My skin is too full of all the truths I need to tell, but/and I’m doing the best I can.
Thanks for reading.