I was driving a big, luxury car down a beautiful tree-lined country road. No cars behind or ahead. I felt powerless to stop my foot from pushing down further and further on the accelerator. I felt rising panic as I felt the car go out of control. But it didn’t spin out or crash because this was a dream. The car went horizontally, neatly, smoothly to the side, coming to a slow, safe stop beside a grove of trees. My husband walked up, smiling. He said, “Don’t worry, honey. You just went too fast.”
I spent my life going fast. Early on, it was to get through the days and nights of the trauma years. Then I moved fast, talked fast and worked fast to get through the days and nights of life with PTSD as quickly as possible–as if maybe I could outrun it if I were fast enough.
Hyperarousal propelled me into constant activity, except when numbness and despair slowed me down. Eventually, narcotics slowed me down, too.
Whatever state I was in, though, I never felt comfortable just sitting with myself. I had to have something to focus on, to take me away from me, my discomfort, the driven, tense feeling inside.
It was like I always had one foot pushed all the way down on the accelerator and the other on the brake. The tension between the two felt unbearable.
I’m better now. I released so much trauma energy after getting off the meds three plus years ago. (I wrote about this in my book PTSD Frozen in Time.)
Sometimes now I can actually lie on my bed with my arms behind my head just thinking. I could never do that before.
But then something happens that activates my survival brain emergency mode and off I go running around like crazy, and if I’m not running around like crazy, my mind will go a million miles an hour doing obsessive safety checks. Did I do this? I need to do this and that and this. Tomorrow I should start the day with this, followed by that and that and that. Did I remember to do this today? Did I mention to so and so such and such? I need to tell them if I didn’t. And so on.
There are ways to slow down my body, kick in the parasympathetic system, like breath work and Trauma Releasing Exercises.
A more enjoyable way to interrupt my circuitous mental insanity is to get out of myself.
My dear nephew had a birthday today. Although he is in his twenties, he will always be three. Jack and I joined my brother, his wife and my nephew at a bowling alley because the birthday boy loves bowling. And is he good! He beat us all. He didn’t want anyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. He wanted to hear “The Star Spangled Banner” instead. He loves to open boxes of pasta so I bought and wrapped some for him. [I got him other cool stuff, too, like a Coke tee-shirt (he loves Coke) and clear speakers that flash lights to the beat of music.] He loves interesting sounds. He likes for me to say the word “blow” in a deep voice. He enjoys adjusting shades. He is a true original and incapable of being dishonest or pretending, which I find very relaxing.
It was great to go out somewhere and forget about myself and my concerns. When I get my perspective back, it’s like the cool calm after a fever.
Then I find I’m feeling groovy again.
Hey, you know I had to end with that!