Tuesday, July 31, 2018

If the last eight days had been intentional, then I could call this an experiment, an exercise in how to be cruel to myself. However it was not intentional. I really did not mean to feel as shitty as I have. I really did not mean to facilitate this shittiness. In this, I am my best self’s worst enemy and my unkind self’s best ally.

It started, as it always seems to, with my body hurting: I slept funny in my neck (assuming I slept at all) and woke up Monday morning with shoulders so stiff, I couldn’t move my head without pain shooting into the muscles that hold my skull. Basically, my trapezius muscles didn’t want to move. It was like two diamond shapes vices over the part of my body that already holds all my tension.

The plan was to go to Kickboxing that night. I’d gone to two classes a week for two weeks straight; that was my most consistent streak in a while. My plan: to increase to three classes that week. I checked in with an instructor friend and she confirmed my suspicions: that heat and rest would be best for my body. I’d probably make things worse by pushing. So, I went home, applied heat, and then played Oblivion too late into the evening. (in the same position that probably caused the neck pain). I smeared tiger balm all over my shoulders and went to bed.

Didn’t sleep well. Woke up late. Rushed to work. Still stiff but decidedly less so than the day before. And then two wishes that I had been doggedly hounding the universe with became possibilities. These possibilities (neither a confirmation, neither a sure thing.) paralyzed me. I was as stiff as my shoulders. Because, here’s the weird thing about an anxiety disorder, and recovering from one: every strong emotion can feel like anxiety. I wasn’t anxious. Not yet, anyways. Possibilities, opportunities, thinking about these things opens the door for my anxiety brain imagination: which means two possible opportunities becomes a thousand different tracks, each with a positive and even more negative outcome. I walked for an hour at lunch trying to clear my head. I told myself that going home instead of going to class was to give my body one more day to recover. I don’t remember eating dinner that night.

Didn’t sleep well. Woke up late. That’s the third morning in a row with no CARS practice, with arriving five minutes late to work, with yelling at every driver who thinks that left turns have the right of way. Did I mention that this was day two and three of my period? I’ve been off birth control for a few months, but I haven’t had a non-chemically regulated cycle since I was eighteen. So, eleven years later... six months in, and I’m still not used to the hormone and mood shifts. Not only was my brain freaking out, but my body felt like it was simultaneously crumbling in on itself and trying to explode. I had a therapy appointment that night. I don’t remember if it made me feel better or not.

Didn’t sleep well. Woke up late. Same deal. This was the last day I had to be at work for the week.  Thank god. I had plans to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend that night, to see a movie I’ve been so excited about.  Thought about cancelling from the moment I woke up.

I won that day, beat the anxiety and didn’t cancel.  This was important.  Seeing my family.  Meeting an important person in my brother’s life.  Supporting two artists I admire greatly. I had three beers that night.  I’m still not drinking regularly, which can be a good and bad thing. It’s good when I don’t because alcohol is a depressant and just destabilizes my entire mood.  I can spend two days recovering from one night of light drinking.  It’s bad only in that I am not rebuilding any ability for my body to handle alcohol, and my willpower is not such that I easily say no when I’m socializing.  I want so badly to feel normal, and this is a normal behavior of young adults — going out for a beer.  Also, I enjoy it. I enjoy beer and wine and whiskey.

I think that was the night I went to the grocery store on my way home, and bought two bags of jalapeño infused Cape Cod potato chips and a bag of string cheese.  I don’t remember when I bought those.  Point is, that is pretty much all I ate for the next 48 hours.

Friday I sat outside and read. I think. Or maybe I slept really late. I made an arbitrary challenge of going to seven kickboxing classes in seven days. Ha! I rebelled against that challenge immediately. I ate cheese and potato chips. I filled in my Passion Planner and then felt weird about trying to “wield” that much control over my life. I went across the street to 7-11 and bought candy and ice cream. I ate it all. 

Saturday, I woke up late. I think I read for a bit. I booked rehearsal space for myself. I took a nap.  I got myself out the door and to a puppet slam.  And I had a good time, but I felt disconnected and a bit out of body.  Being in a room full of people laughing at puppets always does my soul good, but a good part of my soul was being berated by the other part for the last six days.  

Sunday, I ate more chips, more cheese. I swear the laundry pile multiplied.  It was the clean pile. I just couldn’t be bothered to put it away. The fridge looked emptier and emptier. I finished the cheese, and debated going and getting more ice cream.  I neglected food prep.  I didn’t want to get in the car and deal with a grocery story on a Sunday.  But the ground turkey I had defrosted was in the fridge, ready to go. And I couldn’t freeze it again. I either had to use it or toss it. I had been planning on making dumplings as food prep.  Of course, the most time intensive food prep.  THAT wasn’t happening.

I drank coffee late Sunday morning— I started playing that video game again.

And then I texted my friend M, asking how her weekend was.  And when she asked about mine, I told her it had been shitty.  That I hadn’t done anything. And by simply stating that truth to someone, by not pretending that this was something I had to overcome or acting like I needed to hide… something lightened.  She encouraged me to eat something green.

I did.

I visited the Asian grocer instead of the 7-11 and bought the supplies for dumplings.

I spent the evening assembling five days worth of dumpling meals.  I felt immediately better.  In the meditative act of pinching dumpling skins in to shape, I managed to let go of the guilt, of the paranoia over the future, of the arbitrary challenges, of the “shoulds.” I ate sixteen dumplings while playing Oblivion.  I turned the game off at a reasonable time. 

I quieted. I rested. I slept.