A bad-ish week, and a useful realisation

October 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve not had the best of weeks. Various stressful stuff has happened, the worst of which was a few hours last Monday during which the Magician wasn’t answering his phone (for the 3 1/2 hours after he’d asked for an alarm call), which is basically unheard of. Both the Magician’s extremely sensible boyfriend and I were more than half-fearing the worst.

Thank all the Gods (and believe me, I have been!), he was just out for the count with a bad cold, and managed to sleep through 15 missed calls when ordinarily he would be woken by the second ring of the first one. As soon as he did woke up, he looked at his phone, saw the missed calls, and phoned me immediately to reassure me. He’s been fantastic all week, completely understanding and patient with me crying all over him in relief, and determined to finally give his boyfriend (who lives nearer him than I do) a spare key in case anything like this happens again!

A couple of days ago I was hit by a wave of anxiety and exhaustion, and I’m fairly sure it was the recoil from all that. It’s still kicking my ass quite thoroughly, which is frustrating as it’s slowed down my physical progress quite considerably!

For some reason my self-esteem is also especially low at the moment – more back to how it used to be a year ago, with a great deal of body insecurity. Five years ago I was noticeably underweight, three years ago I was thin-ish, and now, a medication change later, I’m really quite plump. It’s led to a noticeable improvement in my physical health, and both my partners regard my new shape as a definite plus (especially in the bottom department!), but it’s still breaking my brain rather. It’s also very expensive in clothes!

Ah well. Ultimately, the medication I’m on which has led to the weight gain has done me a fantastic amount of good, my health has improved, and I can probably live with the patriarchy disapproving of my figure! It’s just a matter of overcoming the cognitive dissonance, and finding other ways of expressing my poly-genderedness (now I can’t be androgynous anymore), and making sure that those around me respect and honour the fact that I’m not really a cis woman, even if I look like one – and even when I’m wearing long flowing dresses and flowers in my hair!

While I’m talking about stresses, I’ve learned a new emergency coping mechanism over the last few months – and completed the realisations behind it last night – for occasions when people are angry with me or dislike me, and when they are angry with or dislike people I love.

None of those are circumstances I cope well with. I tend to head straight into panic, even if rationally it’s not something I need to get het up about, and in the case of people I care about disliking each other, while it’s sad, it’s not that much my business.

Looking back to my upbringing, however, it makes a sort of sense.

I grew up in an environment where punishments were grossly disproportionate. Emotional and physical abuse was the result of minor bits of misbehaviour, and even, sometimes, of no misbehaviour at all. At the same time, at school people disliking me led to them bullying me and encouraging others to do so. Meanwhile, when I was an adolescent, if my family disliked or disapproved of anyone I cared about, they usually made it as difficult as possible for me to see them – at the very least they would hold being forbidden to see them as a threat to get me to fall in line.

Throughout my childhood and some of my adolescence, people being angry with me or disliking me really did frequently lead to me being severely harmed. And as some of that harm was coming from my family, and including character assassination, on some level I genuinely feared that they might take my life. After all, their constant implication was regret that I was born. They didn’t intend that, but that’s *exactly* what it felt like. There’s a reason why I had (and sometimes still have) a recurring dream of my family having me executed, or approving of me being executed by some other body.

When someone is angry with me or dislikes me, I genuinely have a visceral fear that I will be harmed, possibly severely, and might even be killed. When someone is angry with or dislikes one of my loved ones, I have that fear for them, and also fear that I will be forced to no longer be close to them.

This is obviously a problem, because people have every right to be angry with others and like whom they choose! And I am angry with lots of people at various times, and dislike some, and on no account wish actual harm on any of them. I’m not sure I even wish harm on David Cameron or George Osborne, and that really is saying something!

The coping mechanism I’m developing for all this is twofold. Firstly, it is a matter of realising that it comes from my childhood, not from anything real in my life now. Secondly, I keep reiterating to myself, over and over again, words to this effect: “this does not mean that they are going to harm me/my loved one. I/my loved one is in no danger from them”. It sounds *ridiculous*, I know. It kind of is. But as soon as I start doing that, it shifts things in my brain sufficiently that I can let good sense and compassion and reality work their way in, and can approach the situation in a way that is healthy and useful and sensible. It makes apologising (where that’s appropriate) much easier, and it makes me feel much less panicky and ill!

I’m not sure quite what the point is of this post, except to express and discuss some of what day-to-day recovery looks like. It looks like fluctuations in mood and energy, depending on all sorts of factors. It looks like facing up to constant vulnerability, and trying as much as possible to have compassion for myself while doing so. And it looks like daily, gradual, determined persistence, locating, mostly one at a time, where all the tripwires and traps in my brain are left over from my childhood, and finding ways to dismantle them. Sometimes this happens on a daily basis. Sometimes I’m lucky and a whole load of traps both become visible and dismantle themselves all at once. Mostly it’s just a matter of lots of work, patience, time and energy. And step by step, little by little, I am making progress and getting there. 🙂

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