Quotes & Affirmations: Resilience Reminder

Tomorrow I am getting my teeth cleaned for the first time in over 10 years.  Luckily, the dentists I’ve been referred to are compassionate, knowledgeable, and experienced working with trauma survivors.

Instead of anxiety, I feel excitement and anticipation about the procedure.  The act of brushing and cleaning my teeth is not anxiety-provoking and does not bring flashbacks.  The before and after parts of dental care are anxiety-provoking and do bring flashbacks, body memories, and other urges.  Especially between March and May when the body memories and flashbacks related to dental experiences are strongest.

But I do feel anxiety about the anesthesia and the after care.  You see, sedation is necessary for any physical examinations.  A lot of work needs to be done (exam, cleaning, cavities, extraction, etc.).  We agreed that anesthesia and surgery to accomplish as much as possible in a short amount of time is preferable to multiple visits over a longer period of time.  Hence the dental surgery.

After care recovery is supposed to take 2-3 days.  I’ve prepared as much as possible by making my favorite soup and freezing some, doing laundry and dishes, grocery shopping for smoothie ingredients, making sure my blender is clean, and taking out the trash.  And I’ve got a ride to and from the in place using Lyft.

All of this reminds me to stay resilient and keep on trying to practice self care in spite of the obstacles.  This is the first step to changing my dental routine.  And I hope it helps change some of the experiences of May from negative to positive.

So a quote for you from Carl Jung:

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Thanks for reading

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Recovery: celebrating the small steps

A couple weeks ago, I went to the dentist for the first time in over 10 years.  I was so scared that I shook on my way to the dentist’s office.  It turned out to be a very pleasant interaction.  I left feeling excited and hopeful for the first time in a long time.  I even bought a new tooth brush.

Well, I did not start brushing right away.  That felt like too much at first.  All I and my alters wanted was to relax and cope with the backlash and triggers of going to a dentist before anything else.  But Monday brought a surprise, and the brushing began again.  This time with a new toothbrush head (we all really love the type with disposable toothbrush heads instead of having to buy a new toothbrush every few months) and the recommended toothpaste.

The dentist suggested starting with 1x a day brushing and see how that works.  She also said be very gentle and brush downwards over the surfaces to remove plaque; nothing else for now.

Today is the 7th day in a row that we have brushed our teeth 1x a day without serious side effects or an increase in symptoms.

I still can’t look at my teeth.  Neither can the alters.  Nor can any of us watch the brushing take place.  We set everything up and  then brush with eyes closed.  Not until the toothbrush is out of our mouth and we are ready to spit/rinse do our eyes open.  And only because no one wants to miss the sink and clean up the mess.

This accomplishment has led to many other small steps being completed since the last post.  And has helped counterbalance the negative experience from last Wednesday.

What small steps can you celebrate?

Thanks for reading!

Recovery: The search continues

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I met with another potential counselor yesterday.  The session went well, but we both have concerns about travel and consistency for continued care.  So I am thinking and still working with my other therapist over the phone.

Later, I met with people who run a non-profit tai chi organization.  Their building is across the street from this counselor’s current office.  The people were nice and welcoming.  The class was low-key; the cost for joining fit within my budget even with extra for transportation.  The organization’s values are consistent with my personal ones.

Everyone in the system wants to join.  And we all want to run away and pretend we never sat and observed, never drank tea and conversed with compassionate, caring people; never swayed and moved in the chair along with the practitioners; never remembered watching and following our uncle practice during childhood.  The shame of remembering joy and peace from practicing tai chi with my uncle and other people who practiced in Chinatown when I visited my grandparents almost made me cry in front of these people.

I want to sign up.  I want to practice again.  I want to learn and be part of this compassionate, caring community.  But I’m scared.  I feel like by doing this I am running back into the experiences that broke me the first time.  And the second.  And the third.  Can I separate the abuse from the act of practicing tai chi?

And earlier today, I had training at work.  One of the participants is the person who caused me so much trouble over the Christmas holiday.  He heard my name and got really silent.  The tension was palpable over the phone conference.  And then I heard him yelling in the background.  But after that, things calmed down and became professional again.

But I was left triggered, trying to pay attention and participate, then leave and go back to work without crying and passing out from the headache.  A short break and lunch helped.  So did playing mahjong on my tablet.

The fear and shame came back again when I answered a call from the dentist’s office.   I am afraid of dentists.  I hate my mouth, my teeth, and everything associated with them.  It’s one part of my body that I have not been able to separate from my trauma or care for consistently.  But I’m going to a dentist in 1 week for the first evaluation in almost 10 years.

Now, the headache is still with me.  I have tears in my eyes.  The shame is overwhelming.  The internal conflict makes me dizzy.  Do this or that?  Go this way or that way?  Use this strategy or that one?  Eat or not eat?

I wish I could be positive right now.  I wish I could tell you that my tools will work, and I will be ok.  But I am not sure if the tools will work.  And lying is not part of my lifestyle anymore.

I will tell you  that I am going to be ok.  Because I am.  And so are my alters.  We are resilient, flexible, patient, and strong.  And persistent or stubborn.  So yes, the depression and shame and sadness are overwhelming.  The pain is at level 9+ right now.  And everything feels like too much.

But, one moment at a time.  That’s all I have to get through.  One.  Moment.  At. A. Time.

Thanks for reading.