I. Prompt #4 in FBT asks us to consider our senses. As I sink into morning coffee & contemplation, the first thing that comes to mind is how grateful I am for the work I’ve done to get more and more into my body and out of my head. When you have C-PTSD, being embodied can be *hard*. Living from the neck up can be the default position. You experience the world through your senses when you live from the neck up, but the experience is cerebral instead of visceral – you tend to label what you’re experiencing – “safe? dangerous?” without actually *enjoying* what you experience.
II. Scent is – whoa. In my experience, nothing triggers trauma like scent. There are certain scents I can’t abide. Old Spice. Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup. The way a man smells the morning after a whisky drunk. Certain soaps or cleaning products. Pine Sol makes me nauseous. Windex makes me anxious. Then there’s tone of voice (hearing), or the way someone says your name. Sometimes your *name itself* (which is why I’ve changed mine). Then there are songs that come on and flood you with memories as though the curtain rises in the screen of your mind and plays you a movie you didn’t not ask to see. Then there’s body language (sight) or certain physical characteristics. Then there’s the way someone touches you – gently? carelessly?
III. One of the things I’m currently enjoying is how my senses dish up fewer and fewer unwanted memories. Some of the really deep sense triggers still bring stuff up, but I can mostly avoid those, and when I can’t it doesn’t ruin my entire day. I can nod at it. I see you there. I give myself a hug. I find five things I can see, four things I can hear, three things I can feel, two things I can smell, and I get on with my life.
IV. Recovery from C-PTSD is possible. I know, because I can now use my senses for pleasure. I can enjoy what I’m sensing. I still need to take that moment to label it (safe? dangerous?) but once I’ve done so, I can move into a more embodied experience of it. The way a bumblebee sounds when it’s supping on the hibiscus that grows by my front door. Geese flying overhead. The way the river smells like some of the lovelier parts of my childhood Sundays spent fishing for perch. The way it tasted, fried in butter, with the fresh-cut fries we picked up on the way home on the side. The smooth bark of a willow tree and the sound of the dance it does in the wind. The way it looks like a woman’s hair, cascading down her body, forming a bower or a portal – a way into enchantment.
V. I need this lockdown to be over soon so I can indulge my senses in new ways. I want the slap of clay beneath my hands as I knead it. I want to feel the way it forms under my fingertips and the silkiness of the slip as I wet my hands and keep the wheel turning. I want the scent of a huge bonfire. I want the sight of the faces of my fest family lit up in its golden light. I want to feel the drums in my bones and my blood. I want to dance in the round. I want to stargaze and moon bathe.
VI. Things to look forward to.
VII. Things are good around here. I am experiencing a lot of peace and contentment. I am very hard to knock off course. There’s a lot of shrugging off things that come into my awareness that are not my circus, not my monkeys. The things I choose to give my energy and attention to are *worthy* things. Pleasurable things. Lovely things. I made art just for me this past Sunday and had a blast throwing colour around with wild abandon. I visited with my daughter over Zoom – always a pleasure. I spent *hours* in Azeroth with my GG this weekend, and we had such a good time just puttering around. We’re running Night Elves from start, and I’m enjoying how pretty everything is in that world and how fun it is to immerse myself in the lore. I cook things that are a pleasure to eat and order in when I don’t feel like cooking. Yesterday, I stuffed myself full of homemade pot roast soup that I had the foresight to freeze so I’d have something easy to heat and serve. It was so rich and savoury. I sipped a glass of Apothic Dark between bites because the peppery, spicy beauty of that deep-blood red wine is perfect with pot roast soup.
VIII. It’s not been warm enough for much in the way of stoop sitting, but that’s coming and I am determined to do a lot of it. I bought a blanket I can put on the top step to cushion my sit bones. The same blanket will get thrown out on the lawn for safe visits with the girls next door + Kimi + whoever else wants to drop by. I plan to stock the house with things I can scoop and slice and arrange so there’s always something easy to share and nibble – olives stuffed with garlic, rounds of brie, fresh, crisp apples & ripe strawberries. Dark chocolate. Red pepper jelly. Hummus and pita bread.
IX. I used to have so much difficulty with “looking forward”. It made me anxious because there was always the potential for disappointment. I worked some magic on that last year – worked on opening up my own ability to imagine and dream. I can do it now with relative ease and it brings me a sense of contentment. Sometimes I take it into the realm of active imagination and I create a reality I wish to inhabit through the things I write. “Today in my dreams…” I’ll write and then fill it in with what I’m doing in that world. The brain can’t tell the difference between the things we are actually experiencing and the things we imagine we are experiencing, so it provides lovely floods of endorphins to play with reality this way.
X. But when I return from whatever realm I’ve entered, I am happy to be *here*. With my plants and my twinkly lights and nag champa incense and my furbabes and a studio full of supplies and a fridge full of food and music and books and my own excellent company and the company of excellent others.
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