This past month has been busy with a lot of changes. When not writing a post, working, or going to necessary appointments, I’ve been sleeping and trying to practice self care.
Thankfully, where I live offers grocery delivery service and food delivery options. This kept me fed no matter how tired I felt. But every once in a while I did try to go out and walk. I did try to talk with friends and acquaintances. Or at least act friendly when we ran into each other; this includes dogs and other friendly animals. I also tried to do some cleaning and trash removal.
But I also felt some shame about not keeping in touch, especially with people and dogs in my building. That shame mixed with my usual March depression created this compulsion to put myself in an emotionally compromising situation yesterday. It was the first day in a couple of weeks where I felt good in the morning, dressed in a cute outfit for myself, and was focused on enjoying the day instead of the discomfort from feeling sick.
I don’t know what possessed me to do this (maybe missing my neighbor’s dog?), but I opened the door when I heard my neighbor’s dog bark. His bark is distinctive, but I wasn’t sure if I missed him or not. Well, I didn’t miss him. We spent some quality time cuddling together, and then I brought him back to his human.
And this is where the emotional self-harm kicks in.
Upon seeing her again, (I brought the dog downstairs to her while she was chatting with a potential renter) I suddenly felt the need to apologize for not being in touch over the last few weeks. My mind got cloudy, and I started to feel really far away (desensitization) even though we stood less than 3 feet apart. I didn’t want to say a lot or stay long, so I apologized and told her I’d been busy; she replied by saying we should catch up some time. I agreed, then left.
Then I went upstairs and wrote her an email. In the email I was more honest and explained in more detail what happened the past few weeks. Who would want to be around people when they feel sick?
Then I sent the email, not expecting a response.
And I didn’t get one. I won’t get one.
But I also didn’t feel upset or ashamed of myself for not getting a response. I didn’t feel good or bad about myself. The negative self talk did not arrive. The trigger is still there. The past memories and experiences tried and continue to try to shame me by bringing up memories of high school and college that used to unleash floods of shame and embarrassment.
Instead, the anxiety I feel now is because the expected response to this unsafe situation I put myself in did not occur.
As both my therapists would say: this is a sign of significant internal change. And the anxiety over the different response – normal.
How did I cope?
- I watched some episodes of Glee on Netflix and got in touch with the preteen and teen parts who were feeling the grief and shame.
- Then I packed and put the accumulated recycling in the outdoor bins.
- Before I treated myself with an amazing chocolate dessert, I brought the return packages to the mailbox.
My mind tried to trick me into feeling awful with past memories. It used someone I consider a friend, but feel wary around now because of some semi-recent experiences that were part projection (triggers) and part reality.
I had not consciously put myself in an emotionally unsafe situation in over a year before now. For two years, I was careful and chose to avoid people who seemed emotionally unsafe – i.e. they reminded me of my parents or others from the past with their words and actions.
And now I realize that I really have changed. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
Thanks for reading.